For the third time this season, the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers square off in a game that is much more than just Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers.
It mostly is, some would say. The Packers have a shade of a running game at just over 100 yards, an offensive line that’s both banged up and offers a lot of holes and a defense that couldn’t stop Peterson in the two previous encounters, allowing him 7.4 yards per touch and a total of 409 yards.
But they have Aaron Rodgers in another MVP-like season. The question of best quarterback in the NFL is not one that can easily be answered, but few in the league can make the kind of throws Rodgers can make while taking so much punishment and have the ability to preform very well in on of the harshest weather environments the NFL has to offer.
While Adrian Peterson was huge in week 17, running for 199 yards on 34 carries against the Packers, the Minnesota Vikings aren’t going to win with just him. In fact, if the Packers know Peterson is going to have a big day while Christian Ponder struggles to avoid turnovers and move the ball, they’ll be willing to take those chances.
He has completed 4-of-5 attempts 15 yards or more downfield in Week 17 at home against the Packers after going 0-of-6 in Week 13 on the road. He has completed 36.9% of those throws in his career but has done very poorly, 21.4% on such throws, when visiting the Packers.
And history tells us Adrian Peterson, despite all he has done this season, might not be that great in the freezing atmosphere Lambeau Field will offer. He’s only started two games in his career with freezing game-time temperatures. While he’s moved the ball effectively, he’s also lost fumbles in each game. Those fumbles lost would be his only two in a 36-game span ending in Week 8 this season. Overall, he averaged 4.6 yds/rush in freezing games, a half yard worse than his career average.
History also says the Packers should figure out how to stop Peterson the third time: 5 players in NFL history have rushed for at least 247 yards against an opponent in the regular season and faced that same opponent in the postseason. None of them managed a 100-yard playoff game and only Emmitt Smith reached the endzone of those 5.
Prediction – While Green Bay’s record at Lambeau Field hasn’t been stellar in the postseason over the past four years, they have more offensive weapons to turn to in a game that’s not set up to be going according to plans. Just Adrian Peterson won’t be enough, and Ponder will struggle like earlier this season.