Packers XLV

San Francisco Here We Come

Posted January 4th, 2013 @ 04:01pm

It's been an unprecedented week for those of us who live in the belly of the Border Battle. The Vikings fired the opening salvo early Sunday evening and after six days of rest, recuperation and preparation, the two teams are ready to play for their playoff lives on Saturday night. The trash talking has been constant and mostly good spirited among the fans here in the Twin Cities.

It's time to zero in on the wildcard matchup and what will be different this time around. Let's start with personnel: the Vikings will have the same 45 active: the injuries to watch are Antoine Winfield's hand and Christian Ponder's elbow. Winfield will start and we'll watch and see how he handles it as the game goes on. Everything changed when he exited last Sunday. Rodgers was surgeon-like and found little resistance as he carved them up. Ponder will also start--but will he finish? If he gets hit on that elbow again, we may have a Joe Webb sighting.

What's different for the Pack? They get Randall Cobb, Alex Green and Charles Woodson back. Cobb's presence is impossible to overstate. Whether or not he handles returns, having him back at the slot and in the backfield makes the offense so much more dynamic. It looks like all four of the Pack's top four WRs will be active and ready: something we haven't seen since the opener. Green should be back in the mix in the backfield, sharing time with DuJuan Harris. He was very solid in the teams' first meeting at Lambeau.

As for Woodson, his presence presents the biggest question mark leading into this game. With Hayward's play in the slot making him impossible to take off the field, Woodson appears set to line up mainly at safety. How many plays can he handle? He hasn't tackled anyone in ten weeks. If anyone can step back in after that kind of layoff and make some plays, it's Woodson. But it seems far-fetched to believe he will be a difference-maker. Expect Capers to move him around and show Ponder some looks he hasn't seen in the first two matchups.

Let's face it. We know the Packers can score 24-30 points in their sleep. The home crowd will make it easier to run no huddle and Rodgers has been waiting 12 months to avenge last year's playoff shocker (a game where turnovers and drops by the offense were as much to blame as anything).

This game will come down to how the defense adjusts to what Adrian Peterson has done to them in the past five weeks. AP has been getting most of his yardage after initial contact. The back seven has to understand that you have to hit him low and prevent him from bouncing things outside. The truth is, he's had a historic season and will likely continue to get his yards. What has to change this week is the performance of #7.

Ponder pitched a near perfect game last Sunday and some of that had to do with Dom Capers' decision to blitz less than in the first meeting. The kid is pretty mobile and seems most comfortable when he rolls right and looks for his tight end. I think he's in for a much rougher go this time around. I expect his passer rating to be roughly half of the 120 he posted last Sunday.

This time around the Packers own all the intangibles. The Vikings celebrated Sunday night after earning a playoff spot. It's awfully tough to come back six days later and try to match that emotion and do it against the same team you just beat. The Packers wanted to win last week--no question. But they take the field Saturday night, knowing this is the playoffs--the season's on the line. You will see a more urgent performance from the opening kickoff.

The Pack needs to get off to a much quicker start, take a lead and tempt the Vikings to throw more than they want to. As I said leading up to the Bears game, I think the defense rises and makes a statement in this one. AP will get his, but Ponder won't. Feels like a double digit, statement-to-the-rest-of-the-NFC-field kind of score:

Packers 31 Vikings 13


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Comments (12):

The Vikings gave us their A game with everything last week. I don't know if they have an A+ game....which they will most likely need. Rodgers has all the incentive to win his first ever playoff game at home. He has his Four "Catchers in a Real Sky" back that do not have to look at a Teflon sky. They shoild be solid at the running back with Green and Harris. Woodson will play more like a linebacker than a cover back to help in the run defense. Two things I would like to see: 1- On offense with the Catchers in the Real Sky back run more no huddle very wide spread offense and throw for 400 plus yards. 2- Please Mr. Capers no more 3 man rushes on third and long....pressure Ponder to bad decisions and picks. Get the lead early....not like last week when you had to play catchup and force Ponder to bad decisions. Do....the above and the Viprincesses can bring Peterson..Barry Sanders..Jim Brown and Joe Montana in their respective primes and it wont help or matter. GO PACK GO !!

on January 4th, 2013 at 01:09pm

Pretty fair and unbiased blog for a change, THC. Until you get to the score, that is. Pack by 3 scores? C'mon now. I agree they should be favored to win, but you really don't give much respect to a team that really should have swept you this season. Also, if you decide to start blitzing Ponder---you have to account that he's made hay during this winning streak with his legs. The elbow won't affect his mobility/scrambling.

on January 4th, 2013 at 01:29pm

yes I have attended games at Lambeau I have been sworn at threatened for cheering for the opponent. thrown up on. for crap sakes Packer fans drink beer in the bathroom while relieving themselves. I stand by my initial post. Packer Fans have a drinking problem. I will be attending Saturday evening sober with my son. I invite Packer fans to do the same. I find it hilarious you will assume I am a Vikings Fan when actually am a Football fan first. Saturday I get a chance to watch some amazing Pro bowl players on both teams compete. hopefully the drunks don't ruin it! Packer fans will probably pove me right. You have a problem. admit it.

on January 4th, 2013 at 01:45pm

To Vent or Baby (whichever is your handle), you have to forgive me for applying the "if it walks like a duck..." theory regarding your post, just because of the nature of it. Yes, there are some drunks at Packer games, just like there are drunks at Vikings games, and don't deny that there aren't any. You can't make blanket statements like all Packer fans are drunks or Vikings fans are all sober because that's just not true. Just earlier this year Zigi had to go into damage control mode because of some drunks hassling a family with a kid. I might not agree with everything Zigi does, but that was a good PR move on his part. And for Cane, that's a great post I have to admit. And I actually agree with you on several points you made. You've got my respect with that one. Allow me to buy you a virtual beer of your choice.

on January 4th, 2013 at 03:11pm

I'm with u fox, I read Cane's blog and said, wow, that was nice. makes a lot of sense too. see we can talk w/o swearing and calling each other names and talk about the facts of the game and the players. I think 28 will gets his 140-150. just hope no long ones for td's. we have to hold them to field goals this time. I think Woodson will play and be on Rudolph a lot, and blitz from the corner along with Burnett. it is real simple guys, who ever wins the t/o battle will win. I hope Driver gets one this week, I think Borel will be out. I am not sure who I want returning kicks, 18 is so much faster, but I like Ross's tackle breaking ability, they have to hold on to the ball, no fumbles. I say 31-20, go PACK

on January 4th, 2013 at 03:36pm

Wow...after the last few days, who would have though this would come to be? So on that note, let's discuss the game. I'll have to go along with Larry and Fox and say that Cane has a valid point about Ponder. Yes, the kid is still a little green, but all along he has shown flashes of talent, and the naysayers are eating their words about now. Sure he had a rough going in the middle of the season, but all it took was a little patience on the part of the coaches and the purple faithful, and look what happened? Going forward from here, all he needs is a couple of downfield threats and the Packers, Lions and Bears will have plenty to deal with in the seasons to come...and the rest of the NFC for that matter. I'm not stating this to sound like a homer, but it's true that Ponder isn't in the same category as Rodgers, and unless you've been in the purple kool aid you'd probaby disagree, but everyone else wouldn't. But I'm also going to state that this situation won't last long. Ponder is improving and will be a lot better next season. Getting back to tomorrow night, even with the elbow issue he can run, but will he be able to handle the pressure of his first playoff game? My guess is 30% yes, 70% no. The Pack should prevail, but it won't be a gimme. It'll be a margin of a touchdown or less. OSSG is right about not staking an early lead. AP will get some yards, but not like the first two meetings. They may not be able to contain him, but just control him - he's just that good. If all that happens, book the flight to SF.

on January 4th, 2013 at 04:08pm

This game, like the first two, will be decided in the fourth quarter but determined in the first half. It's imperative that the Packers' offense come out with a much, much better start than they had in Minneapolis last Sunday. They punted on their first 3 possessions, left too much pressure on the defense, allowed the Vikes to jump out early 13-0 and were forced to play from behind for the remainder of the game. Fast starts and early leads have been key to the Queens' recent run of success. In their last 4 games they've outscored the opposition in the first half by a combined 77-27; but they've been outscored in the second half of that same stretch 40-49. When the Pack beat them at Lambeau Green Bay grabbed the early 10-0 lead (although it should have been more) and even though they trailed by 4 at the half, due to a poor second quarter, they were in position to control the game and win the second half 13-0. Even last Sunday the Packers won about 38 minutes of that game 34-21 but lost the first 20 and the last 2 minutes 0-16. In 8 quarters of football this season the Pack has beaten the Vikes in at least 6 of them. It will likely take a minimum of 27-28 points to win this game and the Packers will probably need 17 in the first half to get the game under control. If they do they likely win by the 8 point margin the oddsmakers are favoring them by.

on January 4th, 2013 at 06:17pm

Well, some times Dave likes to break it down and some times he likes to rile it up. I'd say Dave is dishes out the swagger right now, and since the Viking fans won't be reading this blog next week, now is the time. This is the Packer's game to win. Same Players, same match ups. I like our talent and I like our coaching staff. 27 -17 Packers.

on January 4th, 2013 at 11:03pm

Dave. Once again showing the delusions of a Packer fan. 31-13? Not a chance. This game is a FG spread hands down. Talk about a homer, come on Dave, the Vikes continue to get no credit, and continue to win with their backs against the wall.

on January 4th, 2013 at 11:29am

Report out of Green Bay is that Webb will start tonight. We shall see...

on January 5th, 2013 at 01:21pm

I just sat back and realized that the Packers are playing this game without their 1st & 2nd picks from 2012 draft (Perry & Worthy), their 1st pick from 2011 (Sherrod) and their 1st pick from 2010 (Bulaga). That would be similar to the Vikings playing with out 2012 (Kalil & Harrison Smith), 2011 (Ponder), and 2010 (Chris Cook). Not a post giving an injury excuse; just a post to give TT some credit as general manager and MM credit as coach for fielding a strong team this year despite those very significant injuries. All the talk this week has been on 'Packers getting healthy' but not much press on the players that the Pack are without. I mean, there is a reason we are starting Newhouse & Barclay at tackles which lead to Rodgers getting sacked a bunch which lead to the one turnover last week. But no excuses and GO PACK! I can't imagine living with these Vikings fans if they somehow pull this off (only way I can see THAT happening is if the Pack have a sloppy game like last year against the Giants with multiple turnovers and dropped passes). Stay focussed on the job at hand and lets go to San Fran!

on January 5th, 2013 at 07:41am

Good point, Trashman, about the Packers' injury state. I think they have 11 guys on IR now, the Vikes by comparison have 3. Where would the Pack be and what kind of team would they have if Cedric Benson and James Starks were charging out of that backfield; Bulaga and Sherrod were on the line, and Desmond Bishop, DJ Smith and Nick Perry were in the active linebacking corps instead of on the sideline. I can tell you where the Queens would likely be: out of the playoffs.

on January 5th, 2013 at 11:07am

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