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Poking and Prodding The Packers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 19, 2011 – 6:06 am

We typically dedicate the first blog entry every Wednesday morning to a general introduction of the Vikings upcoming opponent. This Sunday, the Vikings return to the friendly confines of Mall of America Field and they’ll play a team that needs little introduction: the Green Bay Packers.

They’re the defending Super Bowl champions, they’re undefeated and they’re widely considered the best team in the NFL. Sunday will present the Vikings with a stiff challenge.

We all know how the Packers make their money – an explosive passing offense and a playmaking defense. There aren’t many QBs playing better than Aaron Rodgers right now and there aren’t many LBs making more plays than Clay Matthews right now.

On Offense
Rodgers is the NFL’s highest rated passer (122.5) largely because he leads the NFL in TD passes (17) and completion percentage (69.9%). No, that’s not a typo. Rodgers is completing a ridiculous 69.9% of his passes. The Packers have the 3rd-ranked passing offense, they’re averaging a League-best 9.7 yards per passing attempt and they have more touchdown passes of 20+ yards (8) than any other team.

The WR corps is one of the NFL’s best and deepest, with Greg Jennings leading the way. Jennings has 35 receptions on the season, which is 12 more than the next guy, TE Jermichael Finley. Jordy Nelson (20) and James Jones (15) are next in receptions, with James Starks (15) and Donald Driver (12) also contributors. It’s not so much that any one of these receivers are game-changers, it’s more about Rodgers’ ability to get the right guy the ball at the right time. This is a dangerous, deep group.

As good as Green Bay is at passing the ball, they surprisingly aren’t prone to neglecting the run. They have the NFL’s 14th ranked rushing attack and they have the 12th most rushing attempts. No, those numbers aren’t great, but they’re good enough to keep defenses honest. Green Bay features a two-headed attack at RB, with Ryan Grant and James Starks sharing the load. Grant is the steady veteran, and Starks is the guy who tends to be more explosive.

Green Bay’s offensive line is not loaded with All-Pros or Pro Bowlers, but they’re gritty enough to get the job done. The Vikings defense had its way with the Packers offensive line in 2008 and 2009, sacking Rodgers a total of 18 times in 8 games, including an incredible 14 times in two ‘09 contests. It’s a different story now, though. This group has been bothered by injuries constantly, yet they tough it out and protect Rodgers enough to allow him to shred opposing secondaries. Chad Clifton is the usual starting LT, but he has a hamstring injury and won’t play. Derek Sherrod will take his place, and will join LG T.J. Lang, C Scott Wells, RG Josh Sitton and RT Bryan Bulaga in the starting lineup. [UPDATE: As a reader has pointed out, it was Marshall Newhouse who replaced Clifton last week at LT, not Sherrod. But on their website, the Packers have Sherrod listed as the backup at LT, with Newhouse listed as the backup at RG and RT.] The three interior linemen are experienced, so the spotlight in this week’s contest will be on Sherrod and Bulaga, who will go against the NFL’s most productive DE tandem in Jared Allen and Brian Robison (14.0 sacks between them). The Packers chose these two OTs in back-to-back seasons, and right now they’re finding out if they were worth the investment.

On Defense
If there’s a vulnerability on Green Bay’s team it might be defensively, where they rank 23rd overall (allowing 383.7 yards per game) and 31st against the pass (299.7). The problem is, Green Bay is pretty good against the run (rank 5th and allow just 84.0 yards per game), which makes it hard to maintain possession. And even when you can maintain possession against them, eventually they’re going to force a mistake. The Packers are +7 in turnover margin and are tied for the 2nd most takeaways with 14 and the 2nd most INTs with 11.

From a personnel standpoint, Matthews is the brightest star. He plays outside LB in Green Bay’s 3-4 scheme, lining up primarily on offense’s right side and rushing the passer on most snaps. Other prominent playmakers on this defense are DT B.J. Raji, who plays over the nose, and ball-hawking CBs Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson, who are enemy No. 1 and No. 2 for opposing QBs. Also, don’t sleep on active left DE Ryan Pickett and inside LB Desmond Bishop, who is tied for 3rd in NFL with 57 tackles and has 3.0 sacks. One remarkable aspect of the Packers defense is that they rank 10th with 15 sacks, but no one player has more than Bishop’s 3.0.

The Vikings offense vs. the Packers defense will be a strength vs. strength matchup, as the Vikings rank 3rd in rushing yards per game (142.2) and Green Bay ranks 6th in rushing defense. And while Green Bay’s defense struggles against the pass when they’re not taking the ball away, the Vikings offense struggles to move the ball through the air.

A couple of final stats that could be important in this Sunday’s game:
– The Vikings offense has struggled on 3rd downs this season, but this week is a good week to get it going on 3rd down because the Packers rank 20th in 3rd down defense and are allowing a 40.5% conversion rate.
– Green Bay has the NFL’s 7th ranked scoring defense, allowing 19.0 points per game.
– Green Bay’s defense ranks 10th with an opposing passer rating of 81.8.
– The Packers are tied for 4th in red zone defense.


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 47 Comments »


47 Responses to “Poking and Prodding The Packers”

  1. By Dave S. on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Gonna be an interesting game to watch with ponder starting.. I’m looking forward to it :)

    Skol bikes!!

  2. By Rocksalt on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    BTW the Bears were raned low defensively against the run………guess we took advantage of that………..

  3. By purplehaze on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    good luck vikes-don’t ponder too much-just EXECUTE!!!!

  4. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Just the name of this blog………never mind, i’ll be nice.

  5. By Dave S. on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Lol @ nova .. I hear ya!

  6. By Jake on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Instead of a new stadium, maybe we should start with a new website. It is wed. and you still have injury report from last week up, not to mention the fact that the russians know ponder is going to start, but try to find it here. IMPOSSIBLE!

  7. By Rocksalt on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    good moning Nova

  8. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Morning, Rock.

  9. By Rocksalt on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    hopefully we can take advantage of packers low ranked defense……….although our D has surely slipped a few places, and our O LINE is awful……..hope Ponder doesn’t get killed, but it is time for him to earn his stripes

  10. By Rocksalt on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    getting back to mon morn mailbag………I thought it was completely fake………..such softb a l l vanilla questions………jeeezzes.

  11. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Ok…I tried being nice, doesn’t work. Is this the Viking’s web site or Men’s Gaily?

  12. By Rocksalt on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    haha……….the mon morn mailbag is gaily……..with questions like:
    Gee willikers coach, do you think our O line is improving?

  13. By Jake on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    we need to launch an all out assault on rodgers and rattle him right away. blitz or its going to be a long day for our d backs

  14. By Rocksalt on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    maybe it is Vikings Gaily

  15. By Rocksalt on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    as I recall from 2008 and 2009, when we were who we thought we were, we did pressure Rodgers……he is one of the best in the league at escaping pressure and making plays……..but I agree-no pressure =long day for Vikes.

  16. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    This was posted at 6am……makes me wonder just what Wobschall was dreaming about last night.

  17. By 61vikings on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    This Packer team reminds me of the ’98 Vikings!! Tons of offense but the defense is a little soft!! Just out score your opponent, mentality!! That year the only regular season lose was to the Bucs, 27-24!! Let’s be the Bucs’ and shock everyone by taking down the Pack!! Let’s get The Kid off to a great start in his career!! Offensive line must have the game of there lives!! Defense has to be blitz happy by going after Rodgers and sacking him at least 5 times!!

  18. By Packwins on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Newhouse will be manning LT, not Sherrob. Do your research.

  19. By Packwins on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Sherrod*

  20. By ozzinator on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Nova, I think he was dreamimg about bananas…………………

  21. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Oz…..green and yellow ones !

  22. By ozzinator on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    ha, and sporting a black eye………….ha ahahhaa hahah

  23. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Too funny !

  24. By KLAWZ on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    I have always been negative, but enough with that, I could care less if we lose the rest of the games with Ponder…..happy to see the kid in! I know its a far cry but lets make a statement Vikes on these cheese heads!…………….Any given Sunday!!!!

  25. By Justin F on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Clay Matthews is going through that OL like a knife through hot butter. Ponder will be good, but only if Charlie Johnson PROTECTS HIS BLIND SPOT.

  26. By PONDERTHEFUTURE on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    When is Ponder getting the nod to start going to be taken notice on the vikings.com blog? every other site reports it yesterday afternoon.. as the great Billy Mays once said.. “GET ON THE BALL!”

  27. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    PONDERTHEFUTURE, relax, they’re just getting around to “Tarkenton Retires”.

  28. By PuRpLe 'n GoLd on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    whooo hoooo goo ponder, im so excited to watch his sharp abilities against the pass rushing packers defense, he can move so if our line is doing better and he is alert, we wiill have a very minimal amount of sacks on sunday. Oh, and we should prooobably think about catching the ball a little more on our opening drive, that would help! Skol Vikes!

  29. By hippster on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    HEY donavan , yea ponder whats up ? here hold my clipboard bro

  30. By NovaScotiaVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    McMentor.

  31. By ozzinator on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    awesome!

  32. By David P on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    I wonder if McBad will even dress.

  33. By KLAWZ on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Going to tell ya this right now……………….Our secondary needs to do something they seem never to do…………….SHOW UP!!!!! Dont care what anyone says, Rogers is the best in the league right now, he can throw, he can run, and he is a smart young QB……….dangerous, we need to be relentless! Period!

  34. By VegasVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Manning plays for the packers?

  35. By ponderfan7 on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    morning viking brothers!

  36. By ozzinator on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    quarter ponder baby!

  37. By ponderfan7 on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    who else is excited too see CP7 play as much as i am?

  38. By Jeffbleedspurple on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    PACKERS!! Sc*ew the Packers, I don’t care if they are 6-0, they really haven’t played a good team as of yet with the Saints being the best team they played so far, wait until they play the Chargers, or Buccs or the Lions. for being the defending champions their schedule is about as cheesy as you can get. The teams the Packers have played already won about 34% of their games while the teams the Vikings played won about 62% of their games, POOH on the Packers.

  39. By Jeffbleedspurple on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    ahhhhh!! whats a CP7? R2D2 something like that? No Thanks to CP7

  40. By Jeffbleedspurple on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    CP7 is not going to fly, i’m telling ya, need to come up with something better than that, I remembr in 09 they tried to nick name the Vikings defense 3 men and a mullet, hahahaha!! how stupid.

  41. By VegasVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    I liked Shock and AWWE
    Allen
    Williams
    Williams
    Edwards

  42. By GM on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Outside of the NFC North, Greenbay has an incredibly soft schedule considering they won the SB.

  43. By Bman on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Pleased that Ponder’s getting the nod ahead of Mcnabb. Ponder is able to elude pressure and make plays with his feet, something Donovan can no longer do. This Viking team should be much more competitive now.

  44. By VegasVike on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Packer think they’re invincible, best time to hand them a L

  45. By K on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Wow guys……………I bleed just as much purple as all of you, but it seems most on here just now see the pack as nothin……….???? Manning???? Hes not even playing…I said right now!!

  46. By Jeffbleedspurple on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    I always knew the Packers sucked, we just suck more so I really can’t say much about the Pack and not sound like a hypocrite, but I always thought the Packers sucked, they sucked when they won the Super Bowl, they sucked even when they sucked.

  47. By DuaneN on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Packers are almost always ahead, of course their D rushing stats will be good and passing stats will be bad.

    I agree that Rodgers is the best right now. He is just awesome in and out of the pocket. Been waiting my whole life for a QB to play like him. Too bad the cheeseheads have him.

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