By: Bill Tewes, Jim Boyce, Mark Prott
VIKINGS 16 PACKERS 35
Oh how the tables have turned. If you looked back to the weeks following the Vikings narrow victory at home against Green Bay, you’ll see two dramatically different teams. The Vikings were looking like geniuses for trading a first rounder for QB Sam Bradford and the Packers were beginning to trend in the wrong direction.
It’s week 16 and the Vikings are virtually eliminated from the playoffs. That does not mean they will lay over for Green Bay tomorrow afternoon, but they are about as dead as dead can be. Last week the Vikings got blown out by the Colts, a team who has one of the worst defenses in the league. Adrian Peterson made an extremely early return from a torn meniscus, but had probably the worst game of his career and has been ruled out for tomorrows tilt.
Green Bay’s secondary has yet another chance to try some things and get back on track. The Packers need more than just HaHa Clinton-Dix to step it up if they want to continue to run the table and make a deep playoff run. The secondary woes can be covered up a little bit if Green Bay can get consistent pressure, which starts with the tenacious Mike Daniels and hopefully ends with a healthy Clay Matthews bearing down on Bradford.
I think this game will be close as the Vikings are a rival, but eventually Green Bay will force some turnovers and beat down on a demoralized Vikings squad. Ty Montgomery should get north of 15 carries as he looks extremely comfortable as the lead back and Christine Michael has been a nice compliment. I expect Aaron Rodgers to look Davante Adams’ way as well as even though he had a bad game, Rodgers has been talking him up all week.
PACKERS 30 VIKINGS 21
Everything has been set up for the Packers to sneak into the playoffs and reclaim their divisional crown. The Packers officially control their own destiny which seemed like a pipe dream not too long ago. But before we get ahead of ourselves, the Packers need to give some payback to their hated rivals to the west. The Vikings were humiliated last week and are pretty much eliminated from playoff contention. Don’t be mistaken though, I fully expect the Vikings will come to play and give it their best shot to ruin the Packers’ Christmas holiday and playoff lives. As the old saying goes, “a wounded animal is a dangerous animal.” The Packers need to jump on the Vikings early in this one and unlike last week, step on their opponent’s throats because for all intensive purposes this is playoff football. Hopefully the Bears game put a final scare into the Packers that they are not good enough to relax when they grab a nice lead.
Aaron Rodgers says he feels much closer to 100% compared to last week at this time and if he is able to run it would be a big boost for the offense. The offensive line has been superb of late and for most of the season but the ability of Rodgers to get a few first downs with his legs is usually crucial against a solid defense like the Vikings. Ty Montgomery has been a revelation at running back and Mike McCarthy even hinted that they plan on using him in even more creative ways so I would expect a heavy dose of touches for number 88. Jared Cook has also been brilliant of late and should continue to be a focal point on offense. His presence will begin demanding more and more attention from defenses which will no doubt open things up for the likes of Nelson, Cobb, and Adams.
On defense the Packers need to take advantage of the awful offensive line of the Vikings. Injuries or not at outside linebacker the Packers’ defense needs to get in Sam Bradford’s face early and often. The Vikings possess little threat in the run game and so I expect Dom Capers to get aggressive in this one with his approach. We all know Stefon Diggs was a thorn in the secondary’s side in the first game and although he’s questionable I would bet on him suiting up. It will be interesting to see how Damarious Randall responds to his awful performance and the challenge of going up against Diggs. I expect a bounce back performance.
PACKERS 27 VIKINGS 17
Amazing how much can change within one season. Once upon a time the Vikings were 5-0 and the toast of the NFL. A month ago Green Bay was 4-6 and draft position seemed like it would be more important than wins by Christmas. Yet here we are as the Vikings are sinking like the Titanic and are all but eliminated. The Packers control their own destiny and can get to 9-6 on Saturday. I think the Vikings will come out and play hard but Aaron Rodgers is on a roll.
If Harrison Smith does not suit up I do not think the Vikings stand much of a chance, but even if he does this is a defense that has slipped a little in recent weeks. The front seven dominated Rodgers in Week 2 but that was on turf with the help of crowd noise. The home field should come in pretty handy for the Packers offense in this one and I think Rodgers puts up enough points to beat the Vikings pathetic offense.
Speaking of the Vikings offense, it is pretty bad. The Offensive Line might be the worst unit in the NFL, to the point where it does not even matter if Adrian Peterson plays or not. The Vikings as a team have yet to rush for 1,000 yards, and Sam Bradford rarely has time to do anything more than check down short of the sticks. While I don’t always trust the Packers defense, they should get enough pressure on Bradford to make a difference. I predict a tough yet comfortable Packers victory this weekend.