The eyes of the nation will be on the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings when the two NFC North rivals square off at the Mall of America Field for Sunday Night Football.
Green Bay has rattled off three wins in a row since losing two of its first three games to open the season. The Packers have suffered a terrible rash of injuries on both sides of the ball, but this team will be dangerous as long as Aaron Rodgers can line up behind center.
Heading into Week 8, the Packers are atop the NFC North with a record of 4-2.
Meanwhile, Minnesota's only victory of the season came against the then-winless Pittsburgh Steelers, and the team appears to be turning disturbingly toward dysfunction. The team is in a free fall, having lost two games in a row and five of its first six games of the season.
The Vikings have struggled in every single aspect on the field this season, and as such, nobody expects Minnesota to beat Green Bay this weekend.
When: Sunday, Oct. 27, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minn.
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 47 pts.
- Spread: Minnesota (+9)
Packers Injury Report (via Packers.com)
Vikings Injury Report (via Vikings.com)
|Kalil, Matt||OT||Low Back||LP||FP||-||-|
|Walsh, Blair||K||Left Hamstring||LP||LP||-||-|
Will Christian Ponder Play Well Enough To Earn Another Shot as Minnesota's Starter?
Quarterback Josh Freeman was brought on board and was thrust into the starting lineup before he was ready for the job. He was atrocious on Monday night against the New York Giants, completing less than 40 percent of his passes.
The team announced Freeman would start this week once again before it was discovered on Wednesday that he'd suffered a concussion on Monday night.
As a result, head coach Leslie Frazier says it's "more than likely" Christian Ponder will start on Sunday against Green Bay, as noted by NFL: AroundTheLeague:
Frazier says it's "more than likely" Christian Ponder will start against Green Bay on Sunday. #Vikings— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) October 23, 2013
This is the same Ponder the Vikings thought so little of that they'd rather start Freeman, who clearly has no clue what to do in Minnesota's offense, having just arrived on the scene.
And the only reason he's starting at all is that Freeman is concussed.
This isn't awkward.
Not at all.
However, Ponder now has a chance to make a bold statement about his NFL future with a big game against the Packers—even if he's ultimately auditioning for another team.
His early-season struggles were legitimately concerning, which is why the Vikings opted to roll the dice with Freeman in the first place. In three starts this season, Ponder completed 59 percent of his passes—often missing open receivers—for 691 yards with just two touchdowns and five interceptions.
He'll need to be much sharper this Sunday night against Green Bay if Minnesota has any chance of pulling off the upset at home—not to mention if he has any chance of winning back his starting job.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy deserves more credit nationally than he gets. His team has been decimated by injuries this season, yet Green Bay continues to evolve and adapt—winning games in the process.
The emergence of running back Eddie Lacy has been a tremendous help for Aaron Rodgers, who is missing three of his main weapons in the passing game. Lacy has had three big games in a row for the Packers, coming close to or eclipsing 100 total yards in all three.
Which team will win?
Jarrett Boykin has emerged as a big weapon for Green Bay as well, instead of Randall Cobb, who is recovering from a fractured leg.
If Adrian Peterson has a monster game and scores three or four times, then the Vikings have a chance of beating the Packers. However, Minnesota's offense has been completely defunct the past two games, during which time "All Day" has been held to just 139 all-purpose yards and zero scores.
Green Bay will cruise to win its fifth game of the season on the road this Sunday at Minnesota.
Packers win 35-21
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