Packers XLV

The Packers Have Fallen. Can They Get Back Up?

Posted December 30th, 2015 @ 04:12pm

Step right up, Vikings. It's your turn. For the third straight season the Packers will face a divisional foe with the North up for grabs. First the Bears, last year the Lions and now the Purple. The Pack are two for two and are favored to complete the trifecta Sunday night at Lambeau.

But how can we possibly know which Packer team will show up? They return to the frozen tundra, tail between their legs, after their most lopsided loss of the McCarthy-Rodgers era. You'd expect them to come in focused, embarrassed and angry.

The vengeful Vikings will also take the field with plenty of emotion. Their 17-point loss to the Pack still stings: in a showcase game they played like pretenders. But they've rebounded of late, tangling with Arizona till the final play and taking care of business at home the past two weeks in convincing fashion. Mike Zimmer has yet to beat the Packers in three tries. That gnaws at him and the players know it.

Chad Greenway said earlier this week there's an intimidation factor when it comes to playing the Packers. His team is 4-15-1 against them since he joined the team and 1-10-1 in the last 12. Zimmer must cringe when he hears that. He's trying to build a culture where his team is on the other side of the intimidation factor. He's on his way to accomplishing that. But he's not there yet.

What a strange season. The Packers swept through the division on the road, but face the prospect of getting shut out by all three at home, if they fall to the Vikes. It would be just the fourth time that's ever happened, the last in 1991 (the last season BB--before Brett).

As I write this on Wednesday morning, I don't know the status of the three Packers whose availability will go a long way in determining my confidence level in this game. In order, the Pack could use left tackle David Bakhtiari, right tackle Bryan Bulaga and corner Sam Shields back. Shields' return is less vital in my opinion because the Vikings' passing attack remains pedestrian. Yes, Teddy has played very well the last three games, but they remain a run first team that will win or lose depending on how well the Pack handles Adrian Peterson and the rushing attack.

Getting the tackles back is paramount, in light of the beating Aaron Rodgers took last Sunday. The Cardinals came into the game with one of the league's top defenses, but pass rush was not their strength, which is why they plucked veteran Dwight Freeney off the street a couple of months ago. His throwback performance against the Pack earned him player of the week honors.

The Vikings come in with a better pass rush and if Don Barclay is asked to play left tackle and (likely) JC Tretter is asked to fill in on the right side, the Pack could be in for a world of hurt.

Clearly, the recipe to continue the dominance over the Vikings is to run the ball. Eddie Lacy has rushed for at least 100 yards every time he's played the Vikings. But we all know what kind of season it's been for Lacy. Expect him to rise up and deliver another strong performance in a big spot. It will be interesting to see if James Starks is given a chance to redeem himself, after four fumbles in December. I imagine we'll see Minneapolis native John Crockett get some run to spell Lacy, with Starks only used if needed.

The defense did a terrific job on Peterson in the first matchup and you know he'll be itching for another crack at the Pack, especially with the NFL rushing title on the line. Needless to say, containing AD is assignment number one whenever you line up against the Purple.

Lots of ramifications coming out of this game, obviously. The winner is the NFC North champ and the #3 seed. Should Seattle lose at Arizona (and I assume they will, since the Cards have more on the line than the 'Hawks), they will fall to the #6 seed and will meet the winner of this game. The loser heads to Washington. Count me among those that would much prefer to win the division and host a wildcard game, even against the hated Seahawks.

The 2016 schedule is also impacted heavily by this game. Win and the Pack gets Arizona at home and Carolina on the road next season. Lose and they host Seattle and head to Atlanta--quite a difference, at least the way things stand right now.

So I'm preparing for a 40-minute sense of deja vu on Thursday, when I head to Buffalo Wild Wings, Champlin to join KFAN's Paul Allen for his "Friday Football Feast." Just like leading up to the first meeting, Vikings fans will be booing and jawing at me about a changing of the guard in the North. And as usual, I'll scoff at their rants and remind them that their team can't seem to handle the Pack. Just ask their veteran linebacker: they're intimidated.

Under the bright lights on Sunday night, with temperatures in the upper teens, will the Vikings grab their chance and finally delight their fans? That's not how they roll.

Packers 24  Vikings 21

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Comments (14):

Don't disagree with anything you've said, but I would like to point out that MN is coming off a big win "under the bright lights" and it was a heck of lot colder at TCF stadium than it will be at Lambeau. There will be home field advantage for the Pack, but the weather will favor the Vikings.

on December 30th, 2015 at 03:54pm

Another great blog, Dave. Like the first match-up, I believe it will go down to 'Line Play'. Which Team will dominate the other's Line. The Packers sacked or rushed Teddy a lot in the last meeting. Can they do it again?

on December 30th, 2015 at 10:42am

The best part of the Packers getting destroyed is that Dave from Maple Grove is totally miserable and depressed because his life, the entire life is his love for these players that could care less about him. It's so sad that he has to be put on hold so he can listen to the game while on vacation.

on December 30th, 2015 at 12:26pm

Davey, we'll be doing our best to kill Viking drives with phantom holding calls, and extending the Pack's drives with bogus PI and defensive holding calls. You know it, man! Doo doo doodoodoo CHEAT PACK CHEAT! Doo doo doodoodoo CHEAT CHEAT CHEAT!!

on December 31st, 2015 at 10:53am

Dave, like the Packers are not pretenders. - like both teams are not dealing with injuries. Losing Joseph for the Vikings is a game changer. - passing game pedestrian? sure since your use to watching your HOF QB's for how many years now? and you have made the super bowl how many times? about the same # the vikings have made the playoffs without a legitimate QB. tick tick, tick your team is trending down to pedestrian. Your inclusion on the Friday football feast is a joke. no one wants your arrogant takes at that event. as much as you want my opinion on your cute little blog here. Poor Davey, Viking fans booed you. Pales in comparison to the treatment I have received at Lambeau. being a stroke survivor in a wheel chair. having the opportunity to watch a couple of Packer /Vikings games there in row 61. Iv'e been sworn at, had beer thrown on me. you and your fans are classless! whats the over under of people being thrown out of your toilet bowl of a stadium. 20? with an extra 7 hours to drink. great. think I will stay home for this one. tickets anyone?

on January 1st, 2016 at 04:03pm

Most of you are watching the Cardinals Seahawks game, before pack game. who was that guy that said we should draft Lockett. what a big mistake, i think it was larry,

on January 3rd, 2016 at 05:16pm

It speaks volumes about these two franchises that one wins 10 games, clinches a playoff berth with two games remaining and is playing for the division title in the final game and it's considered a "off" year. The other wins 10 games, makes the playoffs for the first time in 3 and they act like they won the Super Bowl! The Queens this year are doing what they did in 2012 under Leslie Frasier, in '08-'09 under Brad Childress, in 2004 under Mike Tice. They get to the playoff level in the coach's second or third season and hail him as a genius then two or three years later go into a tailspin and demand his firing. While the Pack keeps marching on. For the third straight season the Pack wins the NFC North on the regular season's final day. 28-27 over Chicago, 30-20 over Detroit. 27-20 over Minisota.

on January 3rd, 2016 at 08:45am

Listen, dingle berries! I do two things... Watch my team win division champions and build doll house furniture, and I'm all out of lumber. Enjoy that 5 seed

on January 3rd, 2016 at 09:43am

I tried, but the Packers suck. They suck baaaad. *LOL*

on January 3rd, 2016 at 11:08pm

Packerlifer, best post I have seen so far. Like I said last week, that this game is so herd to pick, with the way this year has went . not just for the packers with all the injuries, but NFL in general. how many of you picked Baltimore to beat the steelers last week? or Atlanta beating the Panthers? It's been a weird year for sure. So the with OL injuries, for the Pack and No way to predict, I will say it is a 20-20 tie, and the Packers win division on tie breaker. if this comes true, Just call me the Cheese Master from now on, Just kidding of course, but just want to see a great game and see what happens next week. Go Packers.

on January 3rd, 2016 at 11:22am

Sorry, I forgot to mention, that ThC didn't say either, Lacy kept grabbing his ribs last week, and didn't look good. they say he is probable , but if he is not full go, They will finally have to play the guy I asked for for 2 months to play and get a spark, Crockett. Starks will get some screen passes , but needs to hold onto the ball. just something to watch, Lacy's ribs packer fans.

on January 3rd, 2016 at 11:51am

LOLOLOL

on January 4th, 2016 at 03:10am

" The 2016 schedule is also impacted heavily by this game. Win and the Pack gets Arizona at home and Carolina on the road next season. Lose and they host Seattle and head to Atlanta--quite a difference, at least the way things stand right now." Sorry, that's incorrect, the NFC North plays the NFC East next year. They played the NFC West this year... Either way this part of the blog doesn't make much sense except to identify a reeling fan trying to justify a loss before it happens.

on January 4th, 2016 at 07:15pm

Just received my copy of Minnesota History. A fine article on the Nipola company run by Arthur and Betty Sinykin. Per the article it was a front for illegal booze in the thirties. Is this your dark family past? I'm sure you will get alt fun reading it. Good luck in DC. Dave

on January 8th, 2016 at 08:02pm

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