The loss of several key players on both sides of the ball would have crippled many teams, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have thrived nonetheless, and can extend their winning streak to four games on Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field.
The Vikings continue to push their revolving door of cornerbacks, with third-year Christian Ponder expected to start against the NFC North rival Packers.
Ponder, who is coming back from an elbow injury, threw for 691 yards, and two touchdowns to five interceptions in the first three games of the season. He is the third starter for Minnesota under center in the last four games.
In last week’s 23-7 debacle against the New York Giants, newly signed Josh Freeman struggled with a shrunken down Vikings offensive playbook, going 20-for-53 for 190 yards and an interception. He suffered a concussion at some point, and is listed as out.
Minnesota wasn’t down by more than two touchdowns until the fourth quarter, but instead opted to give running back Adrian Peterson 13 touches for 28 yards. It was the second week in a row the MVP had less than 20 rushes in a game, and third this year.
The Packers have plenty of stability at quarterback in Rodgers, who’s tenth in the league in passing yards (1,906) fourth in passer rating (104.5) and third in yards per attempt (8.66).
Green Bay has smoked opponents despite a barrage of injuries to receivers and linebackers in the last few weeks. Wide out James Jones is doubtful once again after not practicing all week with a bum knee, and linebackers Nick Perry and Brad Jones are questionable while Clay Matthews is still out with his broken thumb.
But second-year linebacker Jamari Lattimore stepped up with nine solo tackles, including a sack last week in the 31-13 win over Cleveland, and second-year receiver Jarrett Boykin came up huge with eight receptions for 103 yards and a score.
Green Bay also survived a scary neck injury to tight end Jermichael Finley in the Cleveland win. According to the team’s official site, more tests are being done but Finley remains out for Week Eight.
Still reeling from the placement of top safety Harrison Smith on injured reserve, the Vikings 27th ranked defense also has a litany of other injuries to worry about. Defensive tackle Fred Evans and safety Jamarca Sanford are questionable, and reserve receiver Rodney Smith, along with tight end Rhett Ellison, and running back Matt Aslata are all out for Minnesota.
Las Vegas Betting Odds: Green Bay is favored by 9 points
Over/Under: 47.5 points
Where To Watch Online: SNF All Access
Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: NBC
Prediction: Green Bay 31, Minnesota 17
Currently covering NBA, NFL, MLB, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, focusing on trades, controversy, and injury updates. Joined IB Times in August 2012.