Dec 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34. Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
By Travis Duncan
Packer Forum writer
It's easy to think of this Saturday's Wild Card game as the Aaron Rodgers-Adrian Peterson matchup, but the deciding factor(s) could, in a perfect football universe, be so much more.
Naturally the Packers will try to score through the air, and try to contain AP who rushed for 199 yards last week and 210 in the Packers' Week 13 win. But realistically the Packers want to put the ball into the hands of Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder-who has played well of late, having thrown 12 interceptions in the first 13 games of the season but then finished his final three games without an interception. The Packers don't want Peterson to run all over them, but not letting Ponder beat them will be crucial.
"We aren't giving up 200 again," linebacker Clay Matthews told USA Today via NFL.com.
"We want to take (Peterson) out of the mix. That's definitely the game plan," Matthews said.
"If we can limit those carries and force (quarterback Christian) Ponder to beat us, then that's the game plan we're going to play. We need to do a better job of stopping the run, and we will do that. And that will help us get after the quarterback."
The Packers also need to have a tremendous day from its offensive line, not only stopping defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison who totaled 20 and a half sacks in 2012 but opening holes for the running game. Establishing a running game will either help protect a lead or to keep the Vikings secondary and linebackers off balance.
What concerns many fans and commentators though are the intangibles-Who will show up to play? Not so much who has the ability-each team can equally flex its might to victory, but which team has its mojo working, which team has the confidence. Many feel that its the Vikings winners of their last four, while the Packers missed out on a first-round bye and haven't won a playoff game since the Super Bowl in 2011.
In the best case scenario, Lambeau will serve its place as one of the truest home field advantages in sports.
"You get to go back home and the game will be a different type of game," said Rodgers when comparing last week's loss to the upcoming Wild Cart matchup.
"They won't have the home-crowd advantage and hopefully that will make a difference."
Rodgers against the Vikings
As reported by Kevin Seifert of ESPN, Aaron Rodgers has 10 career starts against the Vikings with a 116.4 passer rating, completing 70.6 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns and four interceptions. Of course four of those games the Packers have lost and the Vikings have sacked Rodgers 35 times in those games.
Peterson against the Packers
In 12 career games against Green Bay Peterson has rushed for 1,442 yards or just over 120 yards per game with nine rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. The Vikings are 4-8 in those games.
C.J. Wilson will be back from a knee injury. Jordy Nelson will be back from knee injury. Charles Woodson will make his return from a collarbone injury which cost him nine games. Alex Green should play but may have limited touches despite a lingering knee injury. Randall Cobb is a game time decision with an ankle injury. Devon House is doubtful with a shoulder and hip injury...Jorel Worthy won't play again this season because of a knee injury suffered in last week's game.
This and That
Alcohol sales will be cut off at the beginning of the third quarter instead of the end of that quarter, as reported by Gannett Wisconsin. ....Vegas has the Packers by 8...The Packers and Vikings have met once in postseason, a 31-17 Minnesota victory at Lambeau Field in 2004 NFC wild card....Including that loss to Vikings, Packers have dropped four of last six postseason games at home
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