It’s hard to separate what will happen during these games with what should happen, particularly in the Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers. With the weather forecast predicting temperatures of between -5 and -8 degrees Celsius at kick off time in Lambeau Field the Vikings should try to run the Packers defence all over the field and the last time they played in Wisconsin (December 2nd) Adrian Peterson amassed a whopping 210 yards on the ground at an average of 10 yards per run. In Christian Ponder the Vikings also have an in form Quarterback with the second highest passer rating in the last 4 games of the regular season and a running back with 1139 yards in his last 7 games in the form of Adrian Peterson. The Vikings are also unbeaten in those 4 games while the Packers only loss in the last 5 weeks was the final game of the season loss to the Vikings so there’s not going to be much between the teams this week either.
The Packers 11-5 record makes them the better team and their home record of 7-1 is even more impressive, their single defeat coming in week 1 against a 49ers team who finished 2nd in the NFC, when the 49ers rushed for 186 yards and 1 touchdown. Aaron Rodgers is undoubtedly the star of the offence, he threw the second highest number of Touchdown passes in the NFL this season, a staggering 39. However just 6 teams in the league have scored fewer rushing touchdowns than the Packers this season though, so Rodgers arm has really been their only dangerous weapon. In the sub zero conditions throwing and catching the ball could prove to be extremely difficult Rodgers will of course be used to the conditions though and in his last 2 home games he has thrown for a combined 515 yards along with 3 touchdowns, although they were against 2 of the NFL’s worst defences, Detroit and Tennessee. Visiting passers have had more turbulent times though, in the same 2 games they combined for just 404 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, so it will be important that the Vikings don’t go behind early and try to chase the game.
James Jones and Randall Cobb, who missed last week’s game with the Vikings, have caught 22 of Rodgers 39 touchdown passes between them, so it’s imperative the Vikings keep a close eye on them, however Greg Jennings has been the Vikings biggest problem this season, in 2 games he has 166 yards and 2 touchdowns, although in the Vikings last visit to Green Bay he only managed 4 receptions for 46 yards.
Ball security has been a slight issue for the Packers in recent games with them losing 4 fumbles in their last 4 games while the Vikings have only lost 1 fumble in their 5 games, but both teams have defences who are capable of creating turnovers, with the Packers forcing 23 all season and the Vikings coming up 22 of their own.
The Vikings defence has however been particularly susceptible to passing offences and having allowed 28 receiving touchdowns they are ranked joint 23rd in the NFL.
Home field advantage could play a key factor in this game in another way as the Vikings have only won 1 game outside all season and they’ve only won 1 game on grass all season too.
Ultimately this game will a great indicator of which coaching team has paid the most attention in the previous 2 meetings and while I can see how the Vikings can win this game, by starving the Packers offence of possession and managing the clock with short passes and the formidable pair of running backs who are Peterson and Gerhart I think the home crown and extreme conditions of Lambeau will see the Packers home, not by much though. Withstanding that 3-1 for a Vikings win is a very tempting price though!