The Minnesota Vikings travel to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field Saturday night to take on the Green Packers in what should be a wild Wild Card matchup. The Vikings have somehow managed to cobble together a four game win streak and make it into the NFL’s post season tournament. The last win came Sunday at the Dome against the Packers in a shootout 37-34. Aaron Rodgers has pretty much owned the Vikings throwing for 2,840 yards on 70% passing with 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions (116.4 passer rating). He got his again Sunday throwing for 365 yards and four touchdowns but came up short as the Purple hung on to win.
Conventional wisdom says that in order to win in today’s NFL you need a stud quarterback and complex passing attack. Indeed the Packers used that formula to win Super Bowl XLV two years ago. However the Vikings base their Neanderthal offense around future Hall of Fame RB Adrian Peterson. Running behind a fullback out of the I formation Peterson has rushed for 2,097 yards after tearing two knee ligaments a mere 373 days ago in a meaningless game against the Redskins. The Vikings rarely try to fool anyone. They just line up and knock you on your ass. Everyone knows what’s coming but they still can’t stop it.
Peterson gouged the Packers for 199 yards on Sunday. Peterson runs hard and with authority. Sure he can make people miss but he’s not afraid to put his head down and run someone over either. He wears down and demoralizes defenses. A prime example of that was a 28 yard run on second and 27 last Sunday against the Pack. For 99% of the teams in the NFL that is a passing situation. Not for the Vikings. Peterson can break a big run at any time.
The Vikings fortunes turned for the better this year when offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave shrunk the playbook and simplified things for second year QB Christian Ponder. Most coaches think that they have to fool the other team’s coaches in order to win. Musgrave has refreshingly simplified things and let the players play. The Vikings have some very talented players on offense but aside from Peterson most of them are offensive lineman. Center John Sullivan should be starting in the Pro Bowl. Tackles Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt had great years – especially run blocking. FB Jerome Felton is starting in the Pro Bowl. Felton is an excellent blocker. He buries linebackers and paves the way for Peterson’s big runs. The WR corps may be the worst in the NFL but they CAN make some plays here and there as evidenced by Jarius Wright’s 65 yard catch and run last Sunday.
Watching the Vikings may give you flashbacks to 1966 but winning supersedes style points. Musgrave has come up with a formula for winning: give the ball to Peterson, make a few plays down the field and don’t turn it over. As long as Ponder doesn’t throw interceptions the Vikings are very difficult to beat.
Since 2002 the Packers are an underwhelming 2-4 in playoff games at Lambeau Field. In fact the Vikings won the last time they faced the Packers at Lambeau in the playoffs 31-17 after the 2004 season. Coming off a big win at home the Vikings are confident and not all intimidated by the Packers and their home crowd. Let all of the Hype begin and look for the Purple to come out with a hard fought 31-27 win. SKOL VIKINGS!!