Minnesota Vikings vs. Packers: 5 Things To Watch


Adrian Peterson needs to get loose!
It’s been a while since he has been able to “run like the wind” for a touchdown run. And he needs to, badly. If the Vikings are going to find a way to upset the Packers, they’re going to need a few of classic AP moments. Everything the Vikings do on offense, even in their passing game, is predicated on running the ball in a productive and explosive manner. When those moments aren’t happening, not much else is happening either. The good news: the Vikings are playing a team this week that has struggled against Peterson consistently. Playing Green Bay proved very good for Peterson’s MVP season last year as Peterson ran for 508 yards and two touchdowns in three games against the Packers. For his career against Green Bay (13 games), Peterson has 1,541 rushing yards, a per-carry average of 5.5 yards, 44 runs of 10 yards and nine touchdowns. Let’s hope the Vikings offense and AP can get moving again.

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Ponder’s revenge?
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier made the surprise announcement on Wednesday morning that Josh Freeman has a concussion and that Ponder will start against the Packers. This is the opportunity for Ponder to redeem himself and show to the world that he deserves the lead QB spot. If he can recapture some of the magic he and the offense had going the last time the Vikings played the Packers in the regular season – a Week 17 win to get into the playoffs last year. “It’s an opportunity to get back in the saddle and be more vocal and take a hold of this position, because I don’t want to give it back,” said Ponder. “It feels good, I want to be on the field, and this is my opportunity to get back out there again. I think it was good for me to kind of take a step back for a couple weeks and take a deep breath and learn from those first three games and get out there and play better. I’m excited for this opportunity. What a great way to come back out against the Packers at home. It’ll be fun.”Ponder has a lot to prove to the fans and Vikings management, and this will probably be his last shot.

The Packers have found a running game
This offseason Green Bay insisted they would improve their running game and become a more physical offense when they needed to be. And if you’ve looked at the last three games, it is looking like they’ve come through on their word. Rookie Eddie Lacy has come on strong as of late, he rushed 22 times for 82 yards and a TD last week against a stout Cleveland Browns defense, which brings his previous three-game rushing total to 68 carries for 301 yards and a score. That’s pretty good for an offense that features such a talented quarterback and traditionally pass-heavy mentality. With the receiving core hurting right now, don’t be surprised to see Green Bay continue to try to lean on their suddenly resurgent running game.

But they are battling injuries
It’s expected the Packers offense will be missing three of its top four pass catchers on Sunday night – tight end Jermichael Finley is not playing after that scary neck injury in the fourth quarter. Randall Cobb is out as well and James Jones is doubtful and will probably miss another week. And linebacker Nick Perry is questionable. Another linebacker, Brad Jones, has missed the last two games and could be out this week, as well.
What the Vikings really need to look is that Jordy Nelson is healthy and  he will play, and now there’s another threat with Jarrett Boykin. He filled in last week for Cobb and Jones, catching eight passes for 103 yards and a score. At tight end, it’s expected Andrew Quarless will see more reps for as long as Finley is out of the mix.

And Greg Jennings plays his former team for the first time
He was a part of the Packers from 2006-12 and during those years Greg Jennings was a thorn in the Vikings side. In 15 games against the Vikings, Jennings hauled in 68 receptions for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns. During Jennings’ tenure in Green Bay, the Packers had an 11-4 record against the Vikings. But now Jennings will go from a thorn in the Vikings side to an ace in their deck as he faces his former team for the first time this week.