Last week the Vikings pulled off an impressive upset win at home to clinch a playoff spot. Their reward? Go to Lambeau field and try to do it again. That could be wishful thinking if you're a Minnesota fan, and especially if your name is Christian Ponder.
This is an interesting point spread to say the least. The Packers opened as -8 point favorites and it hasn't move anywhere since (odds from SBRforum). If sharp money loved the dog we would have most certainly seen a move closer to the key number of "7". That said, the Packers are a very public team. Perhaps sharps are waiting for the best line they can get. Either way the game sits in the teaser window at the moment. If you wanted to pair the Packers at -2 with either the Ravens or Redskins, the option is there. Personally, I don't like either of those choices.
I could very simply copy and paste my write-up for this game and call it a day. There are no mysteries as to what the game plan will be.
The Packers will try (and likely fail) to slow down Adrian Peterson. I say "slow down" because nobody has really been able to stop him this season. Even though Capers used a lot of man-to-man to focus more on the running game, AP still got a boat-load of yards. He's now racked up 409 in two games vs Green Bay.
Yet, this isn't a huge concern for the Packers defense. What's far more important will be the play of Christian Ponder. In their first meeting he had two red zone turnovers and the offense sputtered. Last week he had three TDs and no turnovers. Sometimes a game preview is as simple as that.
It's notable that Ponder has had two really strong games in a row, but asking him to do it again this week on the road in a playoff game is a different story. I've been down on him all year and I've had the numbers to back me up. I'd be very surprised if he turned in another effort like that on Saturday.
Even with a superstar running game, this offense is average at best. They rank right down the middle in every important advanced metric I keep track of. That's better than "bad", but with so much hinging on a guy like Ponder, I have no interest in taking a chance on the Vikings.
What's far more exciting is the fact that the Packers should have a full arsenal of pass-catching options for the first time in a long while. Cobb and Nelson are expected to be in the line-up - two of Rodgers favorite options. With Winfield nursing a fractured hand, the Packers could have their way with Minnesota in 3 and 4 wide receiver sets.
Of course that could pose problems for the pass protection, so look for Green Bay to have a nice mix of formations in this one. Rodgers takes enough hits as it is and the Vikings do have options rushing the passer off the edges.
Funny enough, if this game is close, the Packers could be in trouble. They are 1-3 in games decided by three points or less and Mason Crosby has been a nightmare kicking field goals. He's already missed 12 kicks and only made 2 of 9 from beyond 50. Yikes!
I would absolutely love to get involved in this game and ride Green Bay, but I'm not touching it at anything beyond -7. If it does magically drop that far by kickoff I'll add the pick to the card, but that's not something I see happening. For me, it's the Packers or take a pass.