The Green Pack (11-4) can clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs with a victory over the Minnesota Vikings (9-6). But most neutrals will be tuning in to see whether Vikings’ half-back, Adrian Peterson can eclipse Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing yardage record. If he does, chances are he’ll have helped the VIkings clinch a playoff berth as well.
The Vikings control their post-season destiny. Win and they’re in. A loss does not mean they are out but they’ll need a few other results to go their way. (Chicago, Dallas and the New York Giants must stumble).
Peterson is largely what the game will come down to. If the Vikings can get Peterson going early, control the clock and keep Green Bay quarterback, Aaron Rodgers off the field, they stand a good chance of winning.
Green Bay’s defence will have their hands full containing Peterson. It will require more than just the front seven playing at their best. Peterson’s ability to hit a higher gear after getting through the initial rush of defenders (and his ability to run people over) means that the Packers’ secondary had also be ready to tackle a hard runner in the open field.
Earlier this month, in the first meeting between the two division rivals, the Packers got schooled by Peterson. But sub-par play by Vikings quarterback, Christian Ponder and a decent outing by Green Bay’s running-backs left Minnesota two scores short.
Peterson gained 210 yards in that game - his second largest this year (behind a 212 yard effort against the St Louis Rams two weeks later. That was nearly double what Ponder threw for. If Peterson manages to equal that mark again, he’ll have overtaken Dickerson’s record (he needs 208).
The game will come down to who wants what more - the Vikings and a playoff spot or the Packers and a first round bye. Currently Green Bay is favoured by three and a half points. As nice as the Peterson story-line would be for Vikings fans, the Packers may be too strong. Peterson playing in front of a home crowd and breaking Dickerson’s record would be a fairy-tale ending to the Vikings regular season and the start of a return to January relevance. Look for Packers to play Scrooge (or perhaps the big bad wolf) and prevent them from realising the dream.
The vast majorioty of the USA will be able to watch the game, with only the west coast, Arizona and the St. Louis area on other games. (Denver and Boston do not get a game.) FOX is showing the game at 4:25 PM EST.
Where To Watch Online: Vikings at Packers