Five keys to the game

  • Updated: January 5, 2013 - 3:17 PM

FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME

Can Ponder repeat?

It’d be asking a bit much for Christian Ponder to repeat his brilliance from last Sunday’s win in such a pressure-packed road playoff game. Ponder and the Vikings haven’t trailed much at all since leaving Lambeau Field on Dec. 2. This time, they’ll be stuck playing from behind. Can they respond?

Where’s Antoine at?

Now finishing his 14th season, Antoine Winfield has played six career playoff games. Whether he can add a seventh to that log will be a big deal. Still dealing with significant pain and swelling in his fractured right hand, Winfield will wear a sturdier soft cast this week and his availability will be a major X-factor in the Vikings’ attempts of slowing Green Bay’s passing attack. After Winfield left last week’s game late in the second quarter, the Packers piled up 318 passing yards and 27 points on their final six possessions.

Walsh finding his range

One of the most critical moments Saturday will come during pre-game warm-ups when Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh tests his range in the cold winter air of Lambeau Field. Walsh was 10-for-10 from 50 yards or longer during the regular season. But only two of those bombs came outdoors – a 51-yarder in Indianapolis in Week 2 and a 55-yarder at Seattle in Week 9. Before Saturday’s game, Walsh will have to test not only his range but his cleats for footing and the direction of the winds. It’ll be a key moment for the Vikings in determining their scoring range.

Griffen an emerging force

At the end of 2011, the Vikings were convinced they needed to find ways to better take advantage of Everson Griffen’s athleticism and playmaking ability. A Mankato experiment at linebacker bombed. But the Vikings then found plenty of opportunity to use Griffen as both a defensive end and tackle. Last week he delivered three big sacks, the latest signs, Jared Allen says, of Griffen’s increased understanding of the game. “That,” Allen said, “is what separates good players from average players and great players from good players.”

The big guns

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is the favorite for this year’s MVP and has torched Packers for 409 rushing yards and three total TDs this season. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the reigning league MVP has torched Vikings for 651 passing yards and five TD passes this season. This sure looks like a high-stakes battle between the NFL’s best running back and its best quarterback. The nighttime chill at Lambeau may suit the Vikings’ running game better. Peterson has averaged 7.4 yards per carry against the Pack this season.

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Philadelphia - WP: A. Harang 5 FINAL
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 3
Atlanta - LP: S. Marimon 5 FINAL
Toronto - WP: B. Cecil 6
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 12 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 3
Cleveland 4 Top 8th Inning
Minnesota 2
Cincinnati 1 Top 8th Inning
St. Louis 5
San Diego 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
Baltimore 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Boston 0
Milwaukee - K. Lohse 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - J. Locke
Miami - M. Latos 6:10 PM
NY Mets - J. deGrom
LA Angels - C. Wilson 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
NY Yankees - M. Tanaka 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Oakland - J. Hahn 6:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Arizona - R. De La Rosa 8:05 PM
San Francisco - C. Heston
Colorado - J. Lyles 8:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Texas - C. Lewis 8:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Washington 93 FINAL
Toronto 86
New Orleans 39 2nd Qtr 3:57
Golden State 46
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Chicago
Dallas 8:30 PM
Houston
Minnesota 0 2nd Prd
St. Louis 2
Detroit 0 2nd Prd 13:31
Tampa Bay 1
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
NY Rangers
Winnipeg 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Houston 6:00 PM
D.C.
Orlando City 6:30 PM
Columbus
Toronto FC 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Seattle 8:00 PM
Colorado
Vancouver FC 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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