One man's prediction: It would be asking a bit much for Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder to repeat his standout performance from last Sunday's victory 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? Packers 27, Vikings 17
Now finishing his 14th NFL 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 pain and swelling in his fractured right hand, Winfield will wear a sturdier soft cast and his availability will be a major X-factor in the Vikings' attempts of slowing the Green Bay passing attack. After Winfield left Sunday's game in the second quarter, the Packers piled up 318 passing yards and 27 points on six possessions..
Walsh in cold
One of the most critical moments Saturday will come during pregame warm-ups when Vikings rookie kicker Blair Walsh tests his range in the cold winter air. Walsh is 10-for-10 from 50 yards or longer this 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 will be a key moment for the Vikings in determining their scoring range.
At the end of 2011, the Vikings were convinced they needed to find ways to better take advantage of Everson Griffen's playmaking ability. A Mankato experiment at linebacker bombed. But the Vikings 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 NUMBER
31 Points scored by the Vikings in the 31-17 playoff victory at Green Bay on Jan. 9, 2005. In 104 meetings all-time between the teams, that's the only previous postseason contest.
Randall Cobb, Packers: The wide receiver/return threat missed last week's game because of an ankle injury but returns for the playoffs. He was Rodgers' favorite regular-season target with 80 catches, 954 yards and eight touchdowns.MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
About Peterson Favorite for this year's MVP has torched Packers for 409 rushing yards and three total TDs this season.
About Rodgers Reigning league MVP has torched Vikings for 651 passing yards and five TD passes this season.
Who has the edge? Debate away. But 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.