2012 NFC Wild Card Picks: Packers over Vikings

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2012 NFC Wild Card Picks: Packers over Vikings
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I've heard it. You've heard it. My mom's even heard it.

The NFL is now a quarterback league.

Well, then how in the heck did the Minnesota Vikings reach the playoffs with the second-worst pass offense in the league (171.9 yard/game)?

Excuse the cliche, but it was truly a tale of two seasons. Christian Ponder carried the load the first six games, while Adrian Peterson and his bionic knee ran over opposing defenses the final 10 weeks.

The Vikings began the season 4-2 with Ponder averaging 239 passing yards with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. In the 10 games that followed, Ponder passed for 239 or more yards only once (vs. Tampa Bay) with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. During that same 10-game stretch, Peterson flipped a switch, including eight straight games where he rushed for 108 or more yards. ADP wound up averaging a ridiculous 159.8 rush yards per game the final 10 contests of the season.

The Vikings defense finished 16th in total yards allowed and 14th in points allowed per game.

As for Green Bay, the Packers dealt with a slew of injuries on both sides of the ball throughout the 2012 season, but as long as Aaron Rodgers is standing upright, the team is in good hands.

With Greg Jennings banged up for most of the season and Jordy Nelson hobbled because of a hamstring injury toward the end, Randall Cobb emerged as Rodgers' favorite target in 2012 with 80 receptions (104 targets) for 954 yards and eight touchdowns. Oddly, James Jones finished the regular season as the league leader in touchdown receptions with 14.

The Packers managed to contain Ponder in their first meeting (41.9 QB rating), which ended in a 23-14 win at Lambeau Field. They failed to hold the second-year quarterback in check during Week 17. Ponder finished with 234 passing yards, three touchdown passes and no interceptions. The bottom line remains that ADP can carry 99 percent of the workload and the Packers can still win, but they must apply pressure on Ponder and force him into some bad throws.

We simulated the Packers and Vikings 501 times and it is the Packers winning 56.0 percent of the time by an average score of 23-22.

NFC Wild Card: Vikings at Packers
Matchup Win% Avg Score WIS Interactive
Minnesota Vikings 44.0 22 Boxscore
@ Green Bay Packers 56.0 23 Simulate Game

Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2012 NFL season.

Check out our 2012 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.

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