Green Bay Packs Up For Home

Photo: Jim Prisching/AP
Aaron Rodgers threw four TDs against the Vikings last weekend. Image courtesy of Jim Prisching/AP
For the past 50 years, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings have been involved in one of the most intense and close-fought rivalries in the NFL. On Sunday morning (AEDT), the NFC North combatants take each other on in the postseason for just the second time in history.

The Vikings won the first and only playoff clash at Lambeau Field in 2005 by a score of 31-17 , but recent history is against them. The Packers have won the last three clashes between the teams on their home turf, and six of the last seven, including a 23-14 victory in Week 13. The Vikes qualified for the postseason with a last-gasp 37-34 win over Green Bay in the final week of the regular season, but the Pack is a different beast in front of the Cheeseheads at Lambeau.

The superlatives continue to flow for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson who rushed for 199 yards against Green Bay at the weekend, which left him just eight yards short of the highest single season rushing total in NFL history. His numbers this season are nothing short of remarkable after he came back from a knee reconstruction. He rushed for 409 against the Packers this season, and his yardage gains are opening up the rest of the field for young quarterback Christian Ponder . The second-year QB threw three touchdowns in the Week 17 match-up, but he did throw two interceptions on his last visit to Green Bay. Veteran strong safety Charles Woodson should be back in Packers colours this weekend to stiffen up the secondary, but he has been out for ten weeks, so Ponder may look to attack the 36-year-old to see how much rust he is carrying.

Green Bay surely can’t get much more out of its undoubted superstar, field general Aaron Rodgers . The QB threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns without an interception at the Metrodome, and if he puts up similar numbers on his home field, then the Vikings will find it difficult to keep pace. Greg Jennings found the end zone twice at the weekend, and he’ll be joined by second-year speedster Randall Cobb who returns from an ankle injury. James Jones - who caught a league leading 14 touchdowns this season – and Jordy Nelson complete a star-studded set of receivers leaving Rodgers no shortage of targets.

While his wide outs had no worries tearing apart the Vikings’ secondary, Minnesota’s pass-rush did cause Green Bay problems. Defensive end Everson Griffen ripped to shreds the Packers’ offensive line finishing with three sacks, as Minnesota dumped Rodgers five times in total. The 2011 league MVP will need better pass-protection if he’s to move his team upfield on a consistent basis.

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