Packers 24, Vikings 21
One man’s prediction: Christian Ponder managed to keep his job as the starting quarterback for the Vikings after committing three turnovers that resulted in 17 Seattle points. Likewise, the Packers are staying with Scott Tolzien after he threw three interceptions in a loss to the New York Giants. We expect a close game that could swing on a turnover.
The Vikings committed four turnovers last week. They can’t do that again and expect to win. Ponder has turned the ball over 13 times in seven starts. The Packers pride themselves in creating takeaways under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, but they have suffered a steep decline in that area this season. Green Bay has generated only nine takeaways, including a league-low four interceptions.
With Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone) sidelined, the Vikings should be able to focus more on stopping Eddie Lacy and Green Bay’s running game. Not only did Rodgers shred the Vikings defense in the first meeting, but the Packers also rushed for 182 yards, including 94 by the rookie Lacy. Green Bay’s past two opponents, Philadelphia and the New York Giants, committed extra defenders and held the Packers to 154 yards rushing.
Vikings WR Greg Jennings was a surprise inactive at Seattle because of an Achilles’ injury. He vowed that won’t be a problem Sunday as he returns to Lambeau Field, his home for seven seasons before signing with the Vikings. Jennings’ debut season has mostly been a disappointment. He has caught only 34 passes for 410 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since hauling in two against Pittsburgh in London. He caught only one pass for 9 yards in the first meeting against his former team.
MANO-A-MANO: MATCHUP TO WATCH
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson vs. Packers LB Clay Matthews
The 2012 MVP has been dealing with a nagging groin injury that caused him to miss two days of practice this week. Peterson downplayed the severity of his injury and said he expects to play.
The outside linebacker is playing his third game after returning from a broken right thumb. Matthews has been wearing a cast on his right hand, so that might affect his ability to wrap up when trying to tackle Peterson.
Who has the edge?
Neither player is healthy, but we will give the nod to Peterson because he seems motivated to prove that he can still be effective despite lacking some of his typical explosiveness. Peterson has averaged 115.5 yards rushing in 13 career games against the Packers. This matchup marks the 100th game of his NFL career.
THE BIG NUMBER
40 Career 100-yard rushing performances by Peterson in 99 games. He has three this season. He ran for 60 yards on 13 carries in the Vikings’ first meeting with the Packers.
Everson Griffen, Vikings: Griffen possibly could make his first start of the season at left DE with Brian Robison listed as questionable because of a neck injury. Griffen plays defensive tackle in nickel pass-rushing situations, but he could see extensive action at left end, even if Robison is able to play.