Packers XLV

Bidding Farewell to Dome Sweet Dome

Posted October 25th, 2013 @ 02:10pm

Tears will be shed Sunday night as the Packers make their final appearance at the Metrodome. Granted, they will be tears of joy. No more rock hard playing field, artificial sound cranked in, sardine-like concourses and the occasional house of horrors (TJ Rubley).

NBC had other things in mind when they put this one on the prime time schedule. It's not even Halloween and Vikings fans are already plotting out their draft position. Meanwhile, the Pack are dodging injuries to significant players on a weekly basis, but have quietly won three straight as they head into a soft part of the schedule.

That said, nothing comes easy at the Metrodome (except that tasty 34-3 annihilation three years ago) and if the Vikes have any self respect, they will put on a much better show than the one they served up to the nation on Monday night.

The move back to Ponder will make the offense look a lot better than it did against the Giants (yes, I really just wrote that). Of course my eight year old daughter Aly could get behind center and look better than Freeman looked. Ponder will come in as relaxed as he's ever been. The team has made it clear that they are moving on from him and actually may be showcasing him for a trade. The trade deadline is next week. If he performs decently, I wouldn't be surprised to see a team like the Rams surrender a mid-round pick to get them through this season.

Ponder is their most mobile quarterback, able to move out of the pocket to buy some time. With the Pack's pass rush slowed by injuries to their starting outside linebackers, Ponder should be able to make some plays downfield. We all remember how Adrian Peterson torched the Pack last season; I'll be shocked if he's able to duplicate the effort on Sunday night. He may break a long one, but the Pack's third ranked run defense is not a mirage, and the last time Johnny Jolly was on the team, in '09, AP failed to crack the century mark in either game.

Where the Pack has a clear-cut edge is on offense, even without three of Aaron Rodgers' favorite weapons on the field. The Vikings defense is atrocious--it was bad before Harrison Smith got injured, now it's awful. And they haven't faced a QB of Rodgers' pedigree. They also haven't faced this team as it carves out its new identity: one that moves the ball on the ground as well as anyone in the league. No running back has more yards the past three weeks than Eddie Lacy, and with James Starks returning this week to provide a change of pace, the running game should be even stronger.

I love how this team is taking on the look of the Steelers and Ravens teams of the last decade. Punish you with a strong running game, stop the run and let their quarterback win games when he needs to.

My biggest concern in this one is on special teams. Let's hope Tim Masthay kicks out of the end zone to keep the ball out of Cordarelle Patterson's hands. He's a terrific kick returner and can turn field position like a switch. The injuries have decimated the Pack's special teams--we saw Travis Benjamin torch them a couple of times last week. Patterson could provide a spark, a momentum changer, and the Packers need to take him out of the equation.

We'll all be watching Greg Jennings in his first game against the Pack. I expect the boos to drown out the cheers when he's introduced Sunday night. Ponder gives him a chance to make some plays; we'll see what the secondary has in store for him. I have to think Rodgers will use Jennings' training camp gum-flapping as motivation. It's how he rolls.

The Packers are favored by nine points and nobody on the planet not named Paul Allen believes the Vikings can steal one, based on how they've looked all season. But it's Halloween time and we've seen scary things happen in the dome. One thing about the NFL: just when you think you know everything something happens to make you realize you know nothing. We take nothing for granted. But despite the injuries, despite the fact that Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley won't be out there, the Pack is playing at an entirely different level than the Purple.

The crowd will likely be two-thirds Vikings fans and one-third Packer fans, but we'll be loud and an early lead would make it sound even more disproportionate. The final game at the Metrodome should go our way.

Packers 31 Vikings 17

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Comments (4):

Thanks for the classic joke, OSSG. Speaking of which, that could very well be the case Sunday night. The Vikings may find that line you speak of probably once, but it appears that the purple train with one wheel off the track will manage to chug onward, on its merry way toward oblivion. Pack 28, Vikes 7.

on October 25th, 2013 at 04:18pm

If the Packers were healthier and at full strength in their receiving and linebacking corps they would win this game in a rout. However, with the injury depletion I think this game is very dangerous and could be filed under "upset special." The Queens' season is in the toilet but they can still be spoilers and there's no one they would like to spoil more than the Packers. We are all familiar with the Pack's record at the HHH MetroDump. (Although they are 14-16 all time and 4-3 under Mike McCarthy there.) At least half the games Green Bay has lost there happened with the Packers favored going in. Strange and unexpected things have been known to happen to the Green & Gold in that place. The fast-track artificial turf makes Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen bigger problems there. The lately ragged Packers' kick coverage teams could get burned by the suddenly dangerous Vikqueens' return game. The noise in the place will cause communications problems for the younger Packer players replacing starters and there will be plenty of false starts. And let's not forget that Ponder had the best game of his career there against the Packers last December. The Packers can win if they can keep their rushing game going like it has the past month, if the young replacement receivers don't run the wrong routes or drop passes laid in their hands by Aaron Rodgers too many times and if the defense can keep AP from a two or three td game. Hopefully the Pack will leave Mole of America Field for the last time the same way they first played on it in 1983: with a win. But I'll wait to see it before I an relax and believe it.

on October 25th, 2013 at 06:24pm

BREAKING NEWS!!!! Minnesota Vikings football practice was delayed nearly two hours this morning after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. Head coach,Leslie Fraser immediately suspended practice while police and federal agents were called to investigate. After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance, unknown to the players, was the goal line. Practice was resumed today after special agents decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again.

on October 25th, 2013 at 10:35am

[Sorry, THC - I have another open forum topic to bring up] There's been a fair amount of chatter going around regarding league expansion, with the two hot markets being the obvious one (Los Angeles),and the "obviou$" one (London). AS it has been since the Rams and Raiders left LA, the biggest issue they've had is (to paraphrase), "no one has built it; therefore, no one is coming". The stadium issue, not fan apathy, has kept a franchise away from LA all these years, and until that gets figured out, it could be another 20+ years or more, which is really embarrasing for the NFL to not have a team in the #2 TV market in the country. I'm not all that familiar with the ins-and-outs of California politics, but last I heard, the state is in a huge financial mess. Based on that, the chances of them putting together a publically financed stadium bill are remote at best - they may have a better chance of some football hungry Hollywood-types pooling their funds together to make it happen. Sure, it's a crazy idea, but I've heard a lot worse. Then would it be an expansion team, or moving an existing one? Right now, the league has a great symmetry to it with 32 teams broken into 2 conferences with 4 divisions and 4 teams each. So who would move to LA? I'm not going to speculate on that too much, although 2 Florida teams that don't have a win between them come to mind. Then there's the issue of London - financially it does make sense, but logistically it would be a nightmare. A west coast team has enough issues crossing 3 time zones - how would that work crossing another 5? Goddell wants to expand the league in other countries, and the only one that would make sense from a logistical standpoint might be Mexico. There's been some successful NFL games played in a huge stadium in Mexico City, and I think they're in the Central time zone too! I can't see an expansion to Canada working, mostly because the CFL is very successful there, and I don't think their team owners would want the NFL infringing on their turf, figuratively and literally. Not to mention, the CFL attempted an expansion of their own into several US cities several years ago, and that didn't work out too well. I'll admit the CFL game is very entertaining taking into account the rule differences with 20 yard end zones, forward motion being allowed, and only 3 downs making for a wide open game. Be that as it may, leave the CFL in Canada, and the NFL here, in the US, where it belongs. Too bad the NFL-Europe thing didn't work out.

on October 26th, 2013 at 07:57pm

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