Christian Ponder is the key to the game.
A lot is riding on this Sunday’s game in Minneapolis. The Vikings must defeat the Green Bay Packers to clinch a berth in the 2012 NFL postseason. If they fail, their playoff dreams will come crashing down in front of a national television audience.
Minnesota’s playoff chances will live and die by the arm and decision-making of second-year quarterback Christian Ponder. If he gives a similar performance to what he gave in the Vikings’ Week 13 loss in Green Bay, you might as well put a “dagger” in the Vikings.
During that matchup, the Packers defense allowed Adrian Peterson to run wild for 210 yards, which included an 82-yard touchdown scamper. With Peterson’s unbelievable performance, the Vikings still lost by nine.
The Packers beat the Vikings 23-14 in Week 13 because Christian Ponder was unable to be effective against the Packers through the air. He went 12-of-25 for 119 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Ponder could not complete any passes down the field because the Packers’ secondary completely shut down the Vikings’ wide receivers and he was unable to adjust. He only completed three passes to his wide receivers the entire afternoon.
Ponder is not expected to outperform Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He does not have to with the league’s best running back in his backfield. He simply has to give an improved performance from what he gave four weeks ago at Lambeau Field. He must be able to make enough plays with his arm, especially on third down where the Vikings have struggled, to allow drives to continue and keep the Packers’ high-powered offense off the field.
Green Bay is getting healthier on defense and its offense is beginning to click with a new and improved rushing attack. Therefore, the Vikings need Christian Ponder to step up and prove that he was worth the 12th overall choice in the 2011 NFL Draft if they want to win on Sunday.
Adrian Peterson will not win the game by himself. It did not work the last time Green Bay and Minnesota met and it will not work this Sunday.
No matter what else happens in this game, the game will come down to Christian Ponder.
If he is able to make a few clutch throws while limiting his mistakes, there is a good possibility that the Vikings win Sunday and make the playoffs. If he makes mistakes and is not able to make the necessary throws, the Vikings will lose and folks around Minnesota will begin pondering the Vikings’ quarterback situation.