Aside from the Fail Mary, Chuckstrong, and a buzz saw New York Giants team, the Packers have nobody to blame but themselves for where they stand at this point in the 2012 season. And all things considered, 7-4 is not that terrible of a place to be, especially since they spent most of the first half of the season scratching and clawing to stay above .500.
But now, the only measure of success is a playoff berth, and to get to the tournament, the Packers will have to either win the division outright or stay ahead of the Seahawks to avoid any simultaneous possession of the sixth and final playoff spot (get it? GET IT?!?!). Fortunately, the Packers more or less control their own destiny, facing division opponents four times in their last five games. Assuming the Packers will take care of Tennessee in Week 16, they'll probably have to win three of their four remaining division contests to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Those divisional games start in earnest this week with a game at home against the Vikings, the first in a three game series featuring all NFC North opponents. As far as the Packers are concerned, playoff competition might as well start now.
5 - Games by which the Packers lead the all-time series with the Vikings, which as of today stands at 53-48-1 in favor of Green Bay. This is not intended as a point of contention or something worth gloating over, instead merely illustrating first the long history between the two teams (102 contests is nothing to sneeze at ) and second how remarkably close the series has stayed. How close? Well, funny you should ask.
4 - Games in the last 19 meetings between the Packers and Vikings decided by more than seven points. Although the Packers have won two of the last four games by four touchdowns or more, that's far more the exception than the rule, as these teams have generally played very close, very hard fought contests.
3 - Touchdown passes by Christian Ponder in his last two starts. Year two has been a mixed bag for the 2011 first round pick. He started well, completing 84 of 123 pass attempts (68%) in his first four games for 824 yards and four touchdowns while throwing no interceptions. His next four games were fairly rough, however: his completion percentage was comparable at 63% (87 of 139 for 919 yards), but he threw seven interceptions against just six touchdowns. The last three games have seen mixed results. Overall, Ponder's numbers during that span show a 59% completion rate (57 of 97 for 443 yards) and the aforementioned three touchdowns to go along with two interceptions. The completion rate is bolstered significantly by a 75% day against Detroit. Suffice it to say, it's somewhat of a mystery as to which Christian Ponder the Vikings (and Packers) will get on Sunday.
2 - Adrian Peterson has two of just about everything: two games with more than 170 rushing yards (182 in Week 9 and 171 in Week 10), just two games with a yards per carry average of less than four yards (3.8 in Week 2 and 3.4 in Week 3 while going for at least 4.6 yards per carry in every other game this year!), and even two touchdown runs of 60 yards or longer (64 in Week 8 and 61 in Week 10). But even more important (and impressive) is the fact that Peterson appears to have two healthy knees, considering he blew out his left knee in a game at Washington on Christmas Eve of 2011. More on this later.
1 - Touchdowns, on 12 receptions, by Greg Jennings so far this year. Jennings is expected to make his return to the lineup this week after missing the last seven games with a groin (or is it core? or sports hernia? ) injury. How and to what extent he contributes is certainly going to be worth watching, but the Packers are without a doubt better with Jennings in the lineup than on the sideline.
Last Time: Packers - 45 Vikings - 7 (November 14, 2011)
It was all Packers last time out, as Aaron Rodgers completed 22 of 30 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Randall Cobb also scored on an 80 yard punt return in a game that was really over before it even started. Don't expect this kind of game on Sunday.
Meet a Viking - Adrian Peterson - 6'1", 217 lbs - RB - 6th NFL season
Adrian Peterson is a remarkable football player in every sense of the word. He's easily the best pure runner in the sport today and his recovery from last year's knee injury is nothing short of miraculous. How anyone can recover so quickly from this injury is astounding:
Not only has Peterson recovered, he's been better than ever before, rushing for 1,236 yards and 7 touchdowns on 213 carries so far this year, good for a 5.8 yards per carry average. Words don't do justice to how well he's played and how violent of a runner he is. Just watch for yourself what he's accomplished so far this year:
The Vikings will win if...
...Adrian Peterson runs like his usual self, keeps the clock moving, and keeps the Packer offense on the sideline. As they showed last week against Chicago, the Vikings are not built to play from behind. It seems likely the Vikings will be without star receiver Percy Harvin, so keeping the game close is of utmost importance.
The Packers will win if...
...they can force Christian Ponder to try and win the game for Minnesota. Ponder is not incapable of having good games, but so far this year he seems far more likely to keep the Vikings out of a game than to win it for them. Forcing the Vikings to put most of the work on Ponder's shoulders might be the best way for the Packers to come out on top.
The Pick: Packers - 30 Vikings - 21
After a brutal loss to the Giants, the Packers have their work cut out for them trying to get back on track this week. They'll face a stiff challenge trying to keep Adrian Peterson under wraps, but if they can make that happen, the Packers will likely have just enough defense to put Minnesota away.
The Rest (home team in ALL CAPS)
FALCONS over Saints BEARS over Seahawks Texans over TITANS Patriots over DOLPHINS Jaguars over BILLS Colts over LIONS CHIEFS over Panthers 49ers over RAMS JETS over Cardinals BRONCOS over Buccaneers RAVENS over Steelers Bengals over CHARGERS Browns over RAIDERS COWBOYS over Eagles Giants over REDSKINS
Last week: 13-3
Season total: 121-52-1 (.695)
Tweet of the Week
Reserve lineman Greg Van Roten helps his followers restructure their morning activities.