2012 NFC Wild Card Picks: Packers over Vikings

Jake WestrichSenior Writer IJanuary 2, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 30: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball under pressure from Jared Allen #69 and Chad Greenway #52 of the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of the game on December 30, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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

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