10-6 Minnesota Vikings at 11-5 Green Bay Packers
Saturday January 5th, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. ET at Lambeau Field
TV: NBC; Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth
Weather: 30% chance of snow; 3-8 wind; 25 degrees; wind chill 18
Odds: Packers favored by 7½, over/under 46


Recent Matchups
12/30/12              Vikings 37, Packers 34 at Minn.
12/02/12              Packers 23, Vikings 14 at GB
11/14/11              Packers 45, Vikings 7 at GB
10/23/11              Packers 23, Vikings 7 at Minn
11/21/10              Packers 31, Vikings 3 at Minn
10/24/10              Packers 28, Vikings 24 at GB


Can Minnesota duplicate last week’s effort? That was by far their best game on offense this year. Last game the Vikings seemed to get all the breaks: the TD pass to Michael Jenkins; Morgan Burnett hits Ponder, the ball floats up in the air, Green Bay doesn’t get the interception; two penalties inside the five yard line. Without Percy Harvin, what does Minnesota have? An all-pro RB, a TE, a couple linemen; that’s about it.

When Antoine Winfield came out of the game (he’ll apparently play Saturday, with a soft cast), Aaron Rodgers went after Marcus Sherels and made the backup look silly. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said only Sherels, and none of the other corners was trained to take over for Winfield; if that’s the case, then why? And what would have happened if Sherels was injured?

On the other hand, playing at Lambeau is not as intimidating as it once was; the Pack is 2-4 at home in their last six playoff games, after at one time being undefeated in franchise history with a 13-0 mark. A close game might favor the Vikings: Green Bay is 6-14 in games decided by three or fewer points under Mike McCarthy, while the Vikings are 14-9 in those games under the same span of time.


When the Packers run the ball:
Packers: 3.9 yards per carry (22nd); Vikings D: 4.0 yards per carry (7th)
Third-year center Evan Dietrich-Smith is an upgrade over the benced Jeff Saturday, and forms a strong tandem next to RG Josh Sitton. DuJuan Harris is the most explosive Green Bay running back, but at 5-7 he’s not a guy you want running too often between the tackles. The Packers have not had a 100-yard rusher since week 5 of 2010. Edge: Vikings


When the Packers pass the ball:
GB: 7.8 yards per pass (6th); Viking D: 6.9 yards per pass (11th)
GB: 67.0% complete (3rd), 108.3 passer rating (1st); Minn D: 63.9% (27th), 92.3 rating (25th)
Green Bay needs to do a better job with protection; Don Barclay is in dire need of help against Everson Griffen. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times last week, and was sacked 51 times this year; only Arizona (58) and their horrendous offensive line allowed more sacks. James Jones led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions, and Greg Jennings (8 receptions, 120 yards) looked like he is back to being 100%. Randall Cobb had 80 receptions for 954 yards this year but may still be slowed with an ankle injury; if he can go, he’s a player the Vikings don’t really have an answer for in coverage. look for the Packers to flood the field and find the soft spots in Minnesota’s zone defense. Edge: Packers


When the Vikings run the ball:
Minn: 5.4 yards per carry (1st); Packer D: 4.5 yards per carry (26th)
After Adrian Peterson gashed the Packers for 201 yards five weeks ago, I kept hearing ‘but that was without Clay Matthews; things will be different’.  All Peterson did for an encore was to run for 199 yards and set up the game-winning score. I suppose limiting him under 200 yards and a long of 28 – on a 2nd and 27 – can be seen as progress, but here’s the thing: Dom Capers stacked the line to stop Peterson, and this was the result. Selling out to stop the run also resulted in Christian Ponder being able to throw three touchdown passes. Edge: Vikings


When the Vikings pass the ball:
Minn: 6.1 yards per pass (31st); Packer D: 6.7 yards per pass (8th)
Minn: 62.1% complete (12th), 81.2 passer rating (22nd); GB D: 55.1% (4th), 76.8 rating (4th)
With Percy Harvin out, TE Kyle Rudolph (53 catches, 9 touchdowns) is Ponder’s only reliable target; the other options are Michael Jenkins (40/449/2) and Jarius Wright (22/310/2). Ponder played very well last week, but he’s still prone to making some very questionable decisions. Green Bay should get Charles Woodson back on the field, and his savvy cannot be underestimated. Edge: Packers


Prediction: Packers 31, Vikings 24
– final score: Packers 24, Vikings 10
Vikings +7½ (one unit)X
Over 46 (two units)X



This Day In Patriots History


January 4, 1987:
Denver Broncos 22, New England Patriots 17 at Mile High Stadium

The Patriots took a 2nd-half lead on a 45-yard flea-flicker touchdown pass from Tony Eason to Stanley Morgan, but John Elway responded with a 48-yard touchdown pass to win the game for Denver. The Broncos dominated statistically but the Pats kept it close thanks in large part to Rod McSwain and Johnny Rembert, who each had an interception off Elway. Morgan finished with 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Patriots, but the Broncos sacked Eason six times, including a 4th quarter safety; overall Denver ran 74 plays from scrimmage, while the Pats had only 48.

The Pats sent five players to the 1986-7 Pro Bowl:
Stanley Morgan (84 catches for 1,491 yards, 10 TD; 2nd in NFL in receiving yards, 4th in receptions)
Andre Tippett (9½ sacks, one fumble recovery)
Raymond Clayborn (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles recovered)
Tony Franklin (32/41 field goals & 44/45 extra points; led NFL with 140 points, and 32 FG)
Mosi Tatupu (blocking FB and special teams ace)



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January 4, 1967:
The Doors released their first, self-titled album


January 4, 1986:
Singer and bass player Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy died


January 4, 2010:
Gerry Rafferty (Stuck In The Middle With You, Right Down The Line, Baker Street) died



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