4

January

Keys to the Game: Vikings at Packers Wild Card Playoff Edition

Matthews tackling Peterson

Matthews & Co. have to find a way to corral Peterson on Saturday or it could be another early exit from the postseason for Green Bay

Well here we are.  The playoffs.  I have been waiting for this game since I watched a hapless Green Bay Packers team get trounced at home in the Divisional round by the Giants last January.  It was a presumptuous wish, as many teams don’t appear in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons but somehow I knew an Aaron Rodgers-led team would.  As far as the Minnesota Vikings as their opponent, I wouldn’t have hand-picked that matchup.

While Green Bay has had the upper hand lately in this series, the Vikings have shown signs of life in 2012 and played the Packers tough both times.  Last week, they earned their first win against Green Bay since 2009 and snapped the Packers’ 12 game winning streak against NFC North opponents.  Anytime a team faces a divisional opponent, all bets are off and anything goes.  In the postseason, that theory is even stronger.

After the Vikings strong performance last Sunday, many believe they have a better chance than most would assume as they head to Green Bay for this Saturday night’s game.  Running back Adrian Peterson posted his second highlight-reel game in a row against the Packers and quarterback Christian Ponder proved he can take care of the football against the Packers’ ball-hawking secondary.

As we look to this week’s Keys to the game, some remain the same but with the Packers getting some new personnel in this matchup, a few wrinkles may emerge.  This is going to be a long one so break out your snacks and get comfortable!

Adrian Peterson

You knew this is where this entire thread would start.  If you didn’t, maybe you missed last week’s game?  Or perhaps this entire season?  Peterson has only defied many odds time and time again.  At the risk of entering “broken record” territory, a quick recap:  2,097 total rushing yards, 12 touchdowns and just four fumbles in 348 attempts this season.  Only six other running backs have hit the 2,000 yard mark.  I am not certain but I’ll bet not many of them did it coming straight off of an ACL tear.

31

December

2012 Green Bay Packers: Which History Will Repeat?

Lambeau Field

The Packers need to regain the unforgiving home-field edge that Lambeau Field once presented in the postseason

Unfortunately, the Packers didn’t get the job done in Minnesota last week and the Vikings prevailed, eeking their way into the postseason.  Still, the Packers are division winners and will host a playoff game this coming Saturday evening.  As fate would have it, those same Vikings will be Green Bay’s opponent.

At first glance, any opponent coming to Lambeau in January should seemingly have their reservations.  It’s cold and there is a rich history of the Packers winning in those types of games.  But recent history suggests that the Vikings may not have as much to worry about as teams historically have in the past.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer that history is bound to repeat itself.  I’m sure you can all think of other examples, but the biggest one that I always point to is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy almost exactly 100 years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

Under head coach Mike McCarthy, Green Bay has won just one time in three games at Lambeau Field in the postseason.  Those two losses did come to the New York Giants and both times, the Giants went on to win a Super Bowl.  But both times, the Packers were also favored to win, as they should have been.  McCarthy’s most successful postseason was one in which his team had to play and win three road games before getting to and winning Super Bowl XLV, another virtual road game.

Lately, the theory of a historical repeat doesn’t bode well for the Packers.  Now before anyone gets bent out of shape, this history does go two ways.

One Way: Packers in 2002

It was exactly a decade ago during the 2002 season that the Packers, under head coach Mike Sherman, were heading into the last week of the season with a chance to improve their playoff seeding.  They had clinched the NFC North in early December and were 12-3.  A win would have put them in place to secure the number one or number two seed.  I can’t recall which off the top of my head.