Vikings Insider: Vikings-Packers ... Once more, with meaning

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2012 - 10:33 AM

The Vikings have defied all odds all season, and their high-stakes matchup today offers another chance to predict the outcome.

Give this matchup a long, hard look. Break out every metric possible to aid the analysis. Dissect the matchups. Digest the stage and the stakes.

Vikings-Packers, 3:25 p.m. Sunday at Mall of America Field.

Playoff implications for both teams.

So what is it that most catches your eye? Do you see the hottest team in football, the one from Green Bay looking to record its 10th victory in the past 11 games? Or do you sense the continuation of the NFL's most underrated underdog story, these Disney-movie Vikings who continue following the lead of a star running back and an always-positive head coach who have encouraged them to dream big?

If you're playing the odds, perhaps you'll take note that the official Vegas line on the game pegs the Packers as 3 1/2-point favorites.

Then again, if you're playing the odds with the 2012 Vikings, you obviously haven't been paying any attention all year long.

The odds said a team that struggled to scratch out three wins in 2011 and then overhauled its roster would need more than a year to catapult back to relevance. Yet here the Vikings are one win away from sneaking into the playoffs -- like a movie's made-over misfit who somehow lands the supermodel.

The odds said that running back Adrian Peterson wouldn't be anywhere near the same explosive playmaker after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee last December. Logically, a 1,000-yard campaign this season would have been quite the feat. Yet here Peterson is on the verge of history, needing 102 yards to hit 2,000 and sincerely asserting he'll go for at least 208 to break Eric Dickerson's 28-yard-old single-season rushing record.

"In order to accomplish it," Peterson said, "you've got to believe it."

This is the Vikings' best player casually summarizing a team's contagious mindset, one that has been present for the first 364 days of 2012 and will be needed in full on Day 365. Who needs odds, right?

The odds said that when Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts hauled in a 39-yard touchdown catch with 20 seconds left in the season opener that the Vikings were doomed and that the thousands of dejected fans who flooded the exits at Mall of America Field were right to feel such "Here we go again" doubt.

Yet then an unproven second-year quarterback completed two passes for 32 yards in 10 seconds and a rookie kicker subsequently crunched a 55-yard field goal to force overtime. Where, of course, the Vikings won 26-23.

The odds said beating San Francisco in Week 3 was an outlandish aspiration. Yet the Vikings delivered a 24-13 pounding, a win that would have gone down as the season's most impressive before last week's 23-6 mauling in Houston.

The odds said that the Vikings' unnerving 23-14 loss in Green Bay on the first Sunday in December should have been the lever that released the trap door on an heartening season. After all, that was the Vikings' fifth stumble in seven games; it came a week after a lopsided 28-10 loss in Chicago, and it exposed passing game deficiencies rarely seen on the NFL level.

Yet the Vikings quickly cleared the frustration away and saw a bigger picture, one that enabled them to keep playing meaningful games so long as they just kept winning them.

Now? Since leaving Lambeau Field, they've trailed for less than five minutes, delivering dominant victories over the Bears, Rams and Texans.

"It was all a sense of urgency, I guess," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "Plus, we've seen the flashes of how well we can play if we do what we're supposed to."

Added linebacker Jasper Brinkley: "We know what we have inside this locker room. It's about guys with heart, guys who are not scared to take on all challenges. When you have a team full of guys like that, man, sky's the limit."

Urgency and heart. Fearlessness and belief.

Consider them all intangibles against the odds.

Now assess today's game. What is it you see?

Dan Wiederer • dwiederer@startribune.com

  • WEEK 17 3:25 P.M. TODAY VS. GREEN BAY MALL OF AMERICA FIELD • LINE: PACKERS BY 3 1/2 TV: CH. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

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Houston - LP: D. Keuchel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 4
Detroit - LP: D. Price 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 1
Arizona - LP: O. Perez 0 FINAL
Washington - WP: R. Soriano 1
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 8 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 0
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 2 FINAL
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 0
San Francisco 4 Top 5th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
San Diego 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Los Angeles 0
Pittsburgh 21 4th Qtr 2:41
Philadelphia 31
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Washington 73 FINAL
Indiana 78
San Antonio 53 4th Qtr
Minnesota 65
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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 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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