Keys to RematchJanuary 3, 2013
HOLD ADRIAN PETERSON UNDER 100 YARDS RUSHING
I’m not saying the Packers will be able to stifle Peterson like the Green Bay defense did to Barry Sanders in the 1994 playoffs. -1 yard rushing is unrealistic but the Packers will not be able to overcome another 199 or 210 yard performance by Peterson.
After being beat up in film sessions and by the media, I look for the Packers defense to be able to pull this off. My guess is 88 yards for Peterson.
FORCE CHRISTIAN PONDER INTO MAKING MISTAKES
The Vikings might have won the first meeting in Green Bay if Ponder didn’t throw two costly interceptions. He was much sharper Sunday in Minnesota, but he was only sacked once and hit one other time. I realize that blitzing invites Peterson to gash you on draw plays. Dom Capers will have to be both aggressive and smart with his game plan. It’s more than just making Ponder beat you. He showed his competence Sunday. It’s about putting some heat on him and seeing how he responds to playoff pressure. Capers will have to take some prudent chances and hope the secondary holds up. Leading to…
Tramon Williams probably isn’t sleeping very well after his poor performance last Sunday. Whiffing on tackles and committing an untimely penalty, Williams played soft and foolish. He has a big shot at redemption Saturday night. He wasn’t the only culprit on the Packers defense. Yes, they are a better unit than last year. But the question about the Green Bay defense remains: are they tough enough and good enough for a deep playoff run? Performances against putrid offensive lines of Chicago and Tennessee proved little.
THE PACKERS OFFENSE MUST START FASTER
It’s hard to pick at the Packers offense scoring 34 points last week in defeat. But a faster start and an early lead would put more pressure on Minnesota and maybe get them away from a heavy diet of Peterson. Antoine Winfield’s health status is pivotal because Aaron Rodgers feasted on his replacement after Winfield had to leave with an injury Sunday.
The Packers kicker seems to be out of his slump. But he’s one big miss away from costing the Packers their season. Mike McCarthy will look good if Crosby comes through. If he doesn’t, he’ll hear about it. Especially as good as Minnesota rookie Blair Walsh has looked, you probably don’t want this to come down a long field goal attempt.
LAMBEAU FIELD PLAYOFF MAGIC MUST RETURN
There was a time when the Packers were unbeatable in the playoffs at Lambeau. That aura of invincibility was shattered by Michael Vick and the Falcons. The Packers are just 2-4 in the their last six home playoff games. In addition to the two losses to the Giants, an 8-8 Vikings team came into Green Bay and stunned the Packers after the 2004 season.
Different teams now. Different era. I look for a convincing Packers win. I think they got the Vikings’ best shot last week. Peterson can’t do it again. Can he?
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