It’s been quite a while, over three years, since the Minnesota Vikings last managed to beat the Green Bay Packers. On the last game of the 2012 NFL regular season, they’re probably going to have to do it, with Adrian Peterson breaking a rushing record or not, in order to make the postseason.
It’s pretty simple for the Packers, who have already clinched the NFC North with an 11-4 record up to this point. A win and they’re guaranteed the bye week and a spot in the Divisional playoffs. If they lose but both Seattle and San Francisco lose their games, the Packers still get in to the playoffs as a second seed.
It’s a bit more complicated for the Vikings (9-6). A win guarantees them a wild-card playoff spot, regardless of other results. They can still lose and get in, but only if the Redskins beat the Cowboys while the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears both lose their final game. Not something worth risking.
While Adrian Peterson’s incredible season (1898 yards, MVP, MVP, MVP) might turn into a legendary, record breaking one, it won’t mean much to the organization if it doesn’t lead to a spot in the postseason. He needs 208 yards to set it. Last time the Vikings lost was to the Green Bay Packers, and Peterson ran for 210 yards. If things will be so bad offensively and with Christian Ponder (who did a very good job against the Texans) that Peterson needs to take so much on himself, that probably doesn’t bode well for the Vikings.
Peterson might not even be the biggest playmaker on the field. Aaron Rodgers, despite the terrible protection he’s been getting this season (sacked 46 times), is having one hell of a December. The Packers have won their last four games, and Rodgers is on his way for another 4000 yards season, throwing only one interception so far this month, completing 68.4% of his passes with a passer rating of 107.7.
However, the Vikings did make it hard for him last time, picking him off once and have the ability to bring in a lot of pressure with blitz packages. The turnover battle is usually one of the biggest keys in any NFL game. Rodgers has thrown only 8 interceptions all season compared with Ponder’s 12, as he continues to try and force things that just aren’t there. There’s not a lot of doubt Rodgers will make more plays and get bigger numbers than Ponder. The question is who makes fewer mistakes.
Prediction – The Green Bay Packers are the better football team, with the better quarterback. If they take this game as serious as they should instead of already resting for the postseason, Aaron Rodgers should be too good to handle.