Monday Night Football, Week 10. The Vikings and the Packers play in their annual rematch at Lambeau Field. Green Bay, sitting pretty at 9-0 is the clear favorite as they lead the league's rankings. Minnesota, at a lowly 2-6 is coming off of a win and a bye, with a fresh face at quarterback.
TALE OF THE TAPE: GREEN BAY
The green and gold are fielding the NFL's most prolific offense and it doesn't seem like anything will be able to stop them. Aaron Rodgers is the front runner for the NFL MVP award, and is playing like Zeus knighted him with lightning and baptized his glorious arm in the fires of Hephaestus' forge.
"I crown thee god of the football world!" Well, that's what you would see if you watched Sportscenter and they were talking about Aaron Rodgers, anyway. To be fair, he has played really well this year and is king of the proverbial NFL hill right now.
He's getting protection and for some reason—I think it's a mix of Vaseline and KY Jelly—the Packer receivers are impossible to tackle. So Rodgers rockets the ball to Jennings, Nelson, Driver or Finley, they catch it. They get hit, they get away, touchdown Packers. Then we're all subjected to that hideous thing Rodgers does around his waist, that no one that doesn't have cheese for brains cares about.
But if there is a reason Green Bay is 9-0, it sure isn't the pass defense. Ranked 31st in the NFL, Green Bay's secondary has flat out sucked this year. Minus the always shining example of Charles Woodson, they're full of nobodies and Tramon Williams.
They've let mediocre opponents back into games they didn't have business being in, a la Week 7 against the Purple, and last week was a perfect example. They're up two scores against San Diego, and they let them back within one score. Luckily, Rivers, in all his ineptitude, throws one right to some guy named Charlie Peprah and the Packers barely hold one off against the Bolts.
TALE OF THE TAPE: MINNESOTA
This season can be summed up in two words, one describing pre-Ponder, the second describing the rise of Ponder. "Disappointment," and "Hope." That's exactly what Christian Ponder brings to the table. Hope. He's smart, he's quick, he's decisive.
He may not have a cannon for an arm, but it sure is a scalpel. He's surgically accurate on short to medium routes. His tight spiral hits the receivers right where they need to be hit. Shoulders or higher? Boom, it's there. Receiver is going to get hit, so you need it in the gut to brace yourself? Shazam, there you go. He's got some things to work out, he's only a rookie. But he sure does look good.
Am I saying he's Aaron Rodgers? No. Could he be one day? Well...no. He's more of a Steve Young-esque quarterback. He can sling it on the run, he can take a hit, and he's gritty. He's a leader behind a great run game. Unfortunately, Ponder doesn't have Jerry Rice.
Then there's Adrian Peterson. I shouldn't need to go any further than his 795 yards rushing, and his league leading nine rushing touchdowns.
Unfortunately, there's also that shoddy thing they like to call a defense. With the defensive line being the only bright spot here, there's not much behind it by way of a real defense. While Winfield will be back on Monday night, Rodgers has a very good chance of dropping a flurry of perfectly placed passes against this pathetic Minnesota pass defense.
Monday night against a division rival. Leslie Frazier's first game at Lambeau, Chrisitan Ponder's first primetime start. It sounds like jitters waiting to happen for me. However, there are times where the butterflies hit a guy like Ponder, who plays with ice in his veins, that the butterflies make them better. They get more focused and they go all over the field.
On the Packers' side, they'll have the easier task to complete. The biggest mistake they can make is looking past the Vikings and underestimating them.
The Vikings have a shot at this game, and they'll be coming hard into Lambeau.
Aaron Rodgers will have a huge game. He will light up the column in yards and completion percentage. But I'm not sold the Packers will score quite as much on the Vikings this time around. Leslie Frazier, in his weekly press conference, this week, said "we'll have some new wrinkles for Green Bay this week." Expect the Vikings to open the playbook on the Packers this weekend on all sides of the ball.
Another person having a huge game will be Adrian Peterson, who typically lights it up against Green Bay. If the Vikings hope to have a chance, they'll need to feed the rock to Adrian.
I think this is the game where the Packers fall. They'll be overlooking the Vikings, and the Vikings look like they'll be ready to play in a slug-fest.
Vikings +14 over the Packers, 27-23