Packers @ Vikings: The Power of ‘If’

Week 8 Preview

QB Aaron Rodgers

Week 8 brings us to the Minnesota Vikings (1-5) hosting the Green Bay Packers (4-2) in an early game.  The Vikings are coming off a loss to the New York Giants (23-7) and facing issues at the quarterback position. The Packers have no quarterback issues in Aaron Rogers.  Reviewing the history between these two teams, it seems the difference in win-loss depends on the Vikings quarterback and how well he performs.

The Vikings have started seven different quarterbacks against the Packers since signing Adrian Petersen in 2007. Historically, the Packers lead the series between the two teams 9-4.  While Petersen is a force to be reckoned with, the game cannot be carried on his talented shoulders alone.His teammates must support and protect him and Christian Ponder to see the season turn around. As Petersen and Coach Frazier have already stated, the Vikings have to be more physical.

The Vikings have 15 touchdowns on the season and a -2 turnover ratio. Needless to say, besides cutting Petersen loose in the backfield and beyond, they have to win the possession battle and protect the ball if they want to get a win against the Packers.  Ponder has to be better than 6.9 yards an attempt, and his offensive line has got to step up and keep his pocket intact and his throwing lanes clear.  The receivers have to get open down field and capitalize on receptions by gaining yards after the catch.

The Packers have a completely different set of issues, first among which is keeping Ponder reeling and limiting Petersen’s break away rushes. Petersen has been dealing with a tender hamstring the last few weeks so this may be easier than it might otherwise. However, this is the man that fell only nine yards short of the all-time rushing record with a groin injury and a reconstructed knee just last year.

Comparing quarterbacks, Ponder has completed 59 of 100 passes for 691 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s been sacked 10 times for a 44 yard loss.  Rodgers has completed 143 of 220 passes for 1906 yards at 8.7 yards per completion. He has 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The Packers O-line needs to stand stronger, though, as Rodgers has eaten 15 sacks for 106 yard loss so far.

While Rodgers is not one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the NFL, he has rushed for 75 yards on 22 carries. Ponder has only 15 carries but gained 76 yards and two rushing touchdowns.  So if we compare these two according to their primary function, Ponder has no chance against Rodgers. Coupled with their rushing numbers, things become only slightly less lopsided, but still fall heavily in Rodgers’ favor.

In this Sunday’s match, popular thought –by the numbers at least- will hand this game over to the Packers without further analysis. The Vikings are a scrappy bunch however, and even with their main rusher at less than 100 percent, they have heart and determination.  The Packers have the worst red zone defense of the league, so if Ponder can work his offense down field, the odds favor their chances to score.

Hanging on to the ball will be crucial, as the Packers have a -2 turnover ratio, so as long as the Vikings hang on to the ball, protect Ponder, utilize Petersen and score, they have a more than decent chance to win the game Sunday. In contrast, the Packers defensive line is reclaiming key players from injury this week, so this may see an improvement in their red zone standings.

Given the numbers and the history between these two teams, it seems a slam dunk for Green Bay. Digging deeper reveals more even odds however, so we will hedge our bet on this. If Petersen gets fee of the Packers D-line consistently and Ponder keeps it together, this game will go to the Vikings. If the Packers defense coalesces in the red zone and keeps Petersen in check while making life hard on Ponder, Green Bay will walk away with the win on Sunday.

 

By: Brandi Tasby

Packer Keys to Win

Packers.com

Vikings Stats

Vikings.com

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