Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings At Green Bay Packers
- QuarterbackChristian Ponder had shown some signs of improvement, but he was benched in the final quarter of the Week 11 loss to the Seahawks. While Ponder is a good athlete with the requisite physical skills to be successful, he has been a major disappointment throughout the big part of his career. Matt Cassel could see significant playing time against the Packers.The Packers are in survival mode until Aaron Rodgers comes back from his left shoulder injury. While he could be back on Thanksgiving Day when the Packers play the Lions, he will not be back for this game. Third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien has a competitive attitude. While he has just average skills, he could find a way to register a home win over the struggling Vikings.
- OffenseThe Vikings have a chance to dominate any opponent when running back Adrian Peterson (groin) is at his best. He has had some of his best games against the Packers, but most of them have been at the Metrodome. The Vikings would like to unleash wide receiver Greg Jennings on his former team, but much of that will depend on the inconsistent Ponder.The Packers have had a resurgent running game this season led by rookie running back Eddie Lacy, and this could be one of his most important games since their passing game is obviously at a disadvantage without Rodgers. Jordy Nelson remains the Packers’ most dependable receiver because of his route running and solid hands.
- DefenseThe Vikings have had a difficult time playing consistently on defense as they have given up huge chunks of yardage throughout the season. While linebacker Chad Greenway is a dependable tackler, too many of his teammates are arm tacklers who can’t get the job done. Defensive end Jared Allen remains the Vikings’ best pass rusher.The Packers have been far more physical on defense than they have been in past years, but their pass defense has been vulnerable because the front seven tends to get tired in the second half. Clay Matthews has had a difficult time playing consistently since returning from his broken thumb. Fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk has been one of the team’s best tacklers.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings have one of the best special-teams weapons in the NFL in rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who has already returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Punt returner Marcus Sherels is also dangerous as he has a punt return for a touchdown. Strong-legged Blair Walsh can make long FG attempts.The Packers could have a huge problem against Patterson, who returned a kickoff for a TD vs. the Packers in their Week Eight meeting. Michah Hyde can take advantage of his blocks and has returned one punt for a touchdown. Placekicker Mason Crosby has been much improved this season.
The Packers must find a way to survive this game without Rodgers and hope that he can come back against the Lions. Green Bay cannot afford to drop a home game to a struggling divisional rival. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor