Vikings vs. Packers: 5 Reasons Minnesota Will Shock Green Bay on Monday
Shhh! Don't look now, but there's a dirty little secret as shocking as the day we learned of Brett Favre's abusive usage of cell phone photographic technology that could have the Vikings faithful wearing smile and the Packers faithful suffering a crippling state of disbelief come time Tuesday morning.
You see, this Monday night the Green Bay Packers will—in what probably will not be deemed a warm and fuzzy way—host the Minnesota Vikings for round two of their dance around the May Pole, and you can begin believing there will be a few surprises on hand for the mighty Green and Gold.
This dance is a torrid affair, to say the least. Embedded "hatred," indelible reminders of heartbreaking losses suffered by both teams and the occasional shocking upset that never seems to go over well are just some of the mindful definitive attributes to the Vikings-Packers matchups.
OH! Shocking upsets, that's why we're here today!
Let's take a look at the reasons that could be behind a potentially shocking upset in the frozen tundra this weekend.
Divide and Conquer? How About Unite and Defeat!
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The Minnesota secondary has been dealing with the aftershocks of Antoine Winfield's absence for quite some time now, and it has showed through its—shall we say—lackluster performance thus far.
But can his expected return portend the grim inevitable for Green Bay?
With Winfield back in the mix, the Vikings can rest a little easier knowing that their cover package of players is now at 100 percent.
This assurance also bodes well for the offensive line in the respect that with a knowledge of a quality player in the secondary handling cover duties, the defensive line can more aggressively attack the Packers' front five in an attempt to shut down the most prolific passer in the NFL.
So yes, it can.
With a unified secondary and defensive line, the Vikings become far stronger than they were the first time Aaron Rodgers shredded them and, chances are, the Vikings will be able to better contain "Rifling Rodgers."
So, what other reasons are there?
Pondering Ponder's Improvements
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Aldus Huxley once wrote: “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.”
Aside from being a brilliant individual, Huxley also inadvertently describes Christian Ponder's short journey thus far as an NFL starter, and that journey began against this Green Bay defense.
You all remember, right?
Yeah, the guy did manage to throw two touchdowns, but who can't score against Green Bay's defense, right?
What everyone scoffed at was Ponder's 40.6 completion rate and two early Christmas picks to the immortal Charles Woodson, and those two aspects quickly became an early stigma for Ponder.
Then along came Carolina—a much better pass defense.
Ponder did a total turnaround, completing 64.3 percent of his passes while throwing for 236 yards and a single score with no turnovers—the result was a 102.7 QB rating.
That notice sheds some light into what Ponder is actually capable of, and after facing this defense once before, Ponder now has a leg up on the competition, so it is very conceivable to suggest Ponder's second attempt at the Packers could be another quality start—one that can easily help the Vikings shock the unbeaten Packers.
To Green Bay's credit, however, its defense has mildly improved over the past few weeks, so it will not be an easy feat to achieve, but not at all impossible either.
So, what else?
All Day Means All Day!
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Imagine seeing that headed straight for you with a full head of steam. I shudder to think.
The Packers struggled against Adrian Peterson, despite things looking like they had him under wraps in the very early goings of the contest.
Peterson eventually wound up with 175 yards rushing and a single score against Green Bay.
So, what's the moral here?
Peterson leads the leagues in rushing attempts against eight-man fronts; ergo, no matter what you do to contain him, he still finds a way to make you regret trying in the first place.
Now, let's assume Ponder continues his improved play and runs the game through Peterson.
What you have is a solid punishing attack that also affords the attacking team—Minnesota—the ability to utilize play-action and even throw in some cute little option plays to keep this Packers defense off-balance.
This aspect of the game is very much a possibility, and if the Vikings do achieve such an approach, their chances of beating Green Bay significantly increase.
But there is another aspect of the Green and Gold that is a huge problem—one that must be dealt with for four straight quarters in the most unrelenting way...
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In order to beat the Packers, you have to first beat Aaron Rodgers, and to date, nobody has accomplished this.
Sure, a few teams were at the toe of the foothill, so to speak, but none eclipsed the summit.
You can attack him up front, but making him run around only opens up other doors for Rodgers to exploit.
You can remove one or two of his high-powered weapons, but to be honest, there's usually three or four more lurking in the grass.
You can try your best to out-gun him, but Aaron Rodgers is football's version of Lee Van Cleef—it isn't going to happen.
What you can attempt is the aforementioned strategy and hope to limit Rodgers' time on the field.
After doing this (assuming you actually accomplish this in the first place), the defense can find better ways to contain the unstoppable king of the mountain, and otherwise begin the process of potential defeat.
Remember, anything is possible in football, if you do things right.
So, is that it?
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This isn't how fans want to spend countless hours at a football game, unless they are really drunk and very bored.
Take a hard look at the way the Packers play. Forget about all the stats and strategies for just a single moment and try to identify what makes them so damn successful.
It isn't just a host of good players on a football team—any player can be good if he truly wants to. It's belief.
Belief that is derived from utter confidence in themselves and the system.
Watch the Packers play, they don't unravel. They rarely become unfocused and they play with a quiet intensity that you simply sense, not necessarily notice.
That same confidence and belief needs to be the "12th man on the field" for the duration of this all-too-important contest.
The Vikings must exude the same level of intensity and focus the Packers do if they want to beat them—to beat the best, you have to be the best.
The Vikings can start by reminding themselves they almost defeated the Packers the first time around.
Forget about Greg Jennings, Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, the ghost of Lombardi or the fact that you're playing in Lambeau freaking Field, and keep the task at hand—always in forward focus.
If this team can understand it can in fact defeat Green Bay, it is halfway there to believing it can.
Any deviance from this notion will spell sure disaster, and Green Bay will prove the victor once again.
This could wind up being the game of the year folks, so be sure to tune into Monday Night Football and get ready for one helluva showdown!