Vikings vs. Packers is ordinarily well-worthy of the prime time spotlight. But add in an undefeated defending Super Bowl champion, a QB in Aaron Rodgers playing at an extremely high level, the rise of Christian Ponder as the starting QB in Minnesota, the NFL’s best RB in Adrian Peterson and then the setting of Lambeau Field, and you have a matchup that is perfect for the grand stage of Monday Night Football.
The Vikings and Packers will meet for the 102nd time in their series history this Monday night in a contest that will mark the Vikings 55th MNF game, and the 8th meeting between the clubs on MNF. The Vikings are 26-28 all-time on MNF, including a 4-3 record against the Packers and an 11-19 record overall on the road.
Another interesting twist to Monday night’s Vikings-Packers tilt is that it marks the second contest between the two teams in just 3 weeks, and both the Vikings (at Carolina) and Packers (at San Diego) have played just one other game since their last meeting on October 23; the Vikings had their bye week last weekend and Green Bay was on bye during Week 8.
There’s not a whole lot different about the Packers from the last time we poked and prodded at them in the days leading up to a showdown with the Vikings. Rodgers is still the NFL’s highest-rated passer (129.1) and he’s still completing an absurd percentage of his passes (up to 72.5% now). Green Bay’s offense is 4th in yards per game (416.4), 3rd in passing yards per game (312.0) and 1st in scoring at 34.4 points per game. The offensive line has battled injuries and continues to protect Rodgers adequately, and the running game is good enough to force opposing defenses to respect it. Remember, the Packers salted away their victory over the Vikings 3 weeks ago by rushing for 55 yards on 6 carries during the game’s final drive.
What we discussed 3 weeks ago regarding Green Bay’s defense remains true today: if there is vulnerability on this Packers team, it’s defensively. Currently they rank 30th in total defense (399.6 yard allowed per game) and 31st in passing defense (299.6 yards allowed per game). Last week in San Diego, the Packers allowed Chargers QB Philip Rivers to go 26 of 46 for 385 yards and 4 TDs, and three weeks ago they allowed Ponder, in his first career NFL start, to pass for 219 yards and 2 TDs.
The reason Green Bay is able to overcome a few holes on defense is two-fold. First, their elite and explosive offensive production, led by Rodgers and the passing game, puts pressure on the opponent’s offense to match their scoring. And secondly, this leads to a great turnover margin for Green Bay, which just feeds the offense even more. Green Bay is +11 in turnover margin this season and their defense is tied for 2nd in the NFL and tied for 1st in the NFC with 19 takeaways. Remember, future Hall of Fame CB Charles Woodson intercepted two Ponder passes in these teams’ last meeting. Another playmaker to watch is outside LB Clay Matthews. Teams are doing a nice job of covering him up this year, but he’s coming off a 13.5-sack season last year and if the Vikings aren’t careful, he can ruin the game.
Monday night does not present an impossible task for the Vikings, as daunting as the matchup might seem. In fact, it presents a great opportunity for the Vikings, as both Ponder and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier go to Lambeau Field for their first time in their respective roles. If Frazier and Ponder can get the Vikings to be competitive against the Packers while they’re the undefeated defending champions at Lambeau Field on MNF, then that bodes well for the future of this franchise.
Over the next several weeks with the stadium issue on the front burner in Minnesota, we’ll have a piece of stadium information posted after each vikings.com Blog entry.
Stadium FAQ – What is the latest on the new stadium?
In May 2011, the Vikings and Ramsey County agreed on a partnership to build a new stadium at the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP) property in Arden Hills. With a budget deficit facing the State during the regular session, the Vikings were told to wait until a budget resolution was achieved, something that didn’t happen until a three-week government shutdown and a June special session. As a result, the stadium issue was not addressed; however, on Monday, October 17, Governor Dayton expressed his intent to call a special session on November 21 with the sole focus being a “People’s Stadium.” The Vikings continue to work with State leaders on a final stadium proposal, and the team is hopeful the issue will be resolved this November.
Tags: Christian Ponder, Leslie Frazier
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