Monty: The Minnesota Vikings… hahahahahahaha!
Shit. Lost my train of thought. Okay, let’s try again.
The Minnesota Vikings will start rookie quarterback Christian Ponder… hahahahahahaha!
Man. Did it again. Okay, for real this time.
The Minnesota Vikings are 1-5, are starting a rookie quarterback for the first time, will be without two of their top cornerbacks and… hahahahahaha! My sides hurt!
Seriously, though. As I’m sure you know, we hate the fucking Vikings and their shitbag mouth-breathing fans. If the Green Bay Packers were to win this game, say, 576-0, the margin still wouldn’t be wide enough.
Everything points to a blowout, but there are a few things to be concerned about.
First, that stupid hillbilly Jared Allen is having a killer year, leading the league with 9.5 sacks. He’ll face Marshall Newhouse, who’s filling in for Chad Clifton at left tackle. While this may look like a mismatch, Clifton was never that good against Allen anyway. Could Newhouse be that much worse? I say no. He might even be better. Still, Allen hasn’t racked up his sack total by accident. He’s still a force to be reckoned with and the Packers will probably need to chip him or give Newhouse help fairly regularly.
Second, if the Vikings are smart, they’ll utilize running back Adrian Peterson heavily. He’s one of the league’s best, if not the best. Even if the Packers stack the line, it would be surprising if they totally shut him down. If the Vikings get Peterson going, they’ll be able to use play-action and that plays to Ponder’s strengths.
Third, is Percy Harvin. He hasn’t been a big factor in the passing game, but we’ve all seen him make big returns against the Packers. It looks like Green Bay will have one or two new guys on their coverage units this week. Harvin could be the X factor for the Vikings.
Still, the Packers are too talented.
Packers 32, Vikings 20
Andrew: The Packers are 6-0, they’re the class of the NFL, and all the breaks have gone their way, thus far. In week one, the Saints were without their best defensive player and pass rusher Will Smith. In week two the Packers were fortunate to get a young and hungry Carolina team early in the schedule as opposed to later. In week five the Falcons best defensive player and pass rusher, John Abraham, was a late scratch after practicing all week. And counting this week, Green Bay’s opponents have been without their number one cornerback in three of the last four games — Denver’s Champ Bailey, the Rams’ Ron Bartell and now the Vikings’ Antoine Winfield.
Add a cherry on top in the form of cornerback Chris Cook getting arrested on a domestic dispute charge, and it could set the stage for local hero Marcus Sherels. Born in nearby Rochester, graduate of the University of Minnesota and in his rookie season with the Vikings, Sherels now finds himself with an extraordinary opportunity to get lit up like a Christmas tree in front of his family and friends… and just in time for the holidays, too! Or is the story just too perfect for him to not make a big play?
Some might say the Packers are catching another break, getting Christian Ponder’s first start, but this kid actually has me slightly concerned. Ponder is charismatic, full of confidence and seems ready to go. In his first interview after being named the Vikings’ starter, he demonstrated leadership qualities Donovan McNabb hasn’t shown his entire career.
The Vikings are 10-point underdogs at home and should be primed to make a statement. The Packers lose the turnover battle and struggle with Minnesota’s defensive front, but they still have enough in the tank to stave off a late comeback. Game ball: Jarrett Bush.
Packers 23, Vikings 20
Shawn: The Minnesota Vikings will be a rebuilding bottom feeder and the Green Bay Packers a Super Bowl contender regardless of what happens this Sunday. That being said, the Vikings have the chance to vindicate their entire season with a win right here.
This is actually a very big game for both teams. Christian Ponder couldn’t have a better start to his career than a win against the undefeated Packers, and the Packers can’t expect the Detroit Lions to lose within the division except to them. That means if you lose to the Vikings and split with the Lions, the Lions will likely have the edge within the division.
On the other hand, if the Packers win, they head into their bye having played half of their road games for the season and winning all of them.
Even though the Vikings are 1-5, they haven’t played that poorly at home. They lost in OT to the Lions. They lost on a last second TD by the Buccaneers, and they pounded Arizona in their last home game.
Regardless of their record, the Vikings have the pieces necessary to beat the Packers. They have two speed rushers who can get to the quarterback and disrupt the passing game. They also have a running back who can force the Packers to play a lot of base defense. The Packers have been miserable getting to the passer out of their base defense. The Rams attacked this weakness by going to the hurry-up offense, forcing the Packers to leave their base defense on the field.
We all know the kind of defense that Dom Capers prefers against rookie QBs: sit back in coverage and hope for mistakes. We won’t know until game time if Ponder will make the mistakes necessary for the strategy to work, or if he’ll even need to. The point is moot if the Packers don’t contain Adrian Peterson.
On the significant plus side for the Packers, the Vikings are starting a rookie QB for the first time. The Packers are starting the best QB in football. The Vikings need to get after Rogers and pressure him into a bad game. If Rodgers plays just an average game by his standards, the Vikings are beat.
As usual, if you can contain Jared Allen and company, the Vikings have some glaring holes on the back end. Their one decent cornerback, Antoine Winfield, is expected to miss the game. Like others, the Vikings never faced Jerimichael Finley in either of their two losses to the Packers last year. The Vikinsg safeties have not played well, which raises the question: Will the Vikings actually use one of their linebackers to cover Finley?
Sam Shields is expected to miss the game for the Packers, but if they play a lot of base, they can simply move Charles Woodson out wide. The Vikings don’t have any speed on the outside that would concern me.
In many ways, this game is a great warm-up for Detroit, who also rely on their pass rush to cover up holes on the back end of their defense. If the Packers can block the Vikings, then there’s good reason to feel confident for their games with the Lions. In fact, if Marshall Newhouse wins the battle with Jared Allen, then why would Chad Clifton ever get his job back?
One last thing on the Packers’ side — they love playing in domes, and there will be enough Packers fans at the game that it will practically become a home game if the Vikings get off to a slow start.
Undefeated seasons end more often than not on the road against a division rival. The Packers need this game and must play well to win.
Though the Vikings present some problems that give them a decent chance for the upset, ultimately, I can’t see Christian Ponder beating the Packers in his first game. Even if he moves the team between the twenties, I think the Vikings struggle enough in the red zone to allow the Packers to control the game in the second half.
Packers 27, Vikings 16
Sarah: I’m sure I’ll catch some shit here for this, but I’m a liiiiiiitle worried about this weekend’s game at Minnesota. Just a little.
Christian Ponder is an unknown, and I don’t like unknowns. He looked competent and had good pocket awareness in his debut against Chicago last weekend, and he could come out slinging, hoping to prove himself against a hated division rival.
I mean, Donovan McNabb sucks, and we all know that. Ponder is another matter.
That being said, I’m thinking the only viable chance the Vikings should have on Sunday is to force a couple turnovers early, capitalize and rely on Adrian Peterson to keep them going offensively and Jared Allen & Co. to get in Aaron Rodgers’ grill as he tosses up passes to keep the Packers in the game.
But that’s probably not going to happen. The Packers have done a good job running the football in the Metrodome in recent years, and if the offensive line can protect Rodgers, he’ll throw for 300-plus yards again versus a porous Vikings secondary that will likely be missing Antoine Winfield.
I didn’t think much could top last year’s 31-3 drumming of Minnesota at the Dome, but this Sunday could come close. I hope.
Packers 35, Vikings 17