The New York Giants ended the Green Bay Packers' five-game winning streak with a 38-10 beatdown on Sunday Night Football. It was their worst loss since 2007, and at 7-4, the Packers now sit a game back of the Chicago Bears in the NFC North.
The Packers are set to host the Minnesota Vikings (6-5) in a crucial Week 13 showdown between division rivals. A win would not only help the Packers keep pace with the Bears, it would maintain the separation between them and a slew of teams competing for the two wild card spots in the NFC.
The Packers are 4-1 at home and 2-0 against divisional opponents. With that said, they should be able to get a win in their first meeting with the Vikings this season.
The Vikings greatest strength is running back Adrian Peterson. After tearing both the ACL and MCL in his left knee last year, many thought Peterson’s career would take a serious downturn.
That hasn’t been the case. Peterson leads the league with 1,236 rushing yards, which is almost 200 more than the next best rusher, Arian Foster.
The Packers are ranked 11th in the NFL against the run, allowing just over 100 yards per game. The defense had trouble stopping Andre Brown and Ahmad Bradshaw Sunday, but they also had to deal with Eli Manning and a great passing attack.
The Vikings don’t have the same dynamic offense. Christian Ponder has a passer rating of 82.0 and averages less than 200 yards per game. Therefore, Green Bay's secondary, even without Charles Woodson, should be effective in shutting down the pass game. The front-seven needs to contain Peterson and limit his big gains. If they have success, the Packers will have a significant advantage.
Green Bay struggled offensively against the Giants, managing a total of just 317 yards. Rodgers’ one significant play was a 61-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson. In the end, last season's MVP threw for only 219 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked five times, lost a fumble and threw a pick.
Regardless of whether you think Rodgers was holding on to the ball too long or the offensive line wasn’t holding up long enough, both need to improve against the Vikings.
With that said, the Vikings defense has had trouble keeping teams out of the end zone of late, allowing 28 or more points in three of their last four games.
That trend may continue Sunday. With Greg Jennings expected to return, the Packers could have a healthy group of wide receivers and tight ends for the first time in months.
Green Bay is 13th in the NFL in scoring, averaging 24.8 points per game. The majority of those points are generated by Aaron Rodgers, as the Packers continue to depend on the passing game. Rodgers has 28 touchdown passes on the season and just seven interceptions.
Playing at home against a defense that has just six picks on the year, Rodgers should rebound from a bad outing against the Giants.
The Vikings have only beaten one team with a winning record this season, the San Francisco 49ers back in Week 3. On top of that, many of their losses have come against teams vying for a wild card spot, including the Colts, Redskins, Buccaneers and Seahawks.
The Vikings are a middle-of-the-pack team and will likely finish with an 8-8 record at best considering they still have to face the Packers and Bears again, along with the 10-1 Houston Texans.
The Packers haven’t lost back-to-back games in a season since the end of 2010. Aaron Rodgers left midway through the 7-3 loss to the Lions in Week 14 with a concussion and did not play the following week when the Packers fell 31-27 to the Patriots.
On Sunday afternoon, the Packers should bounce back from an embarrassing defeat in New York and beat the Vikings.
Prediction: Packers 28 Vikings 17