Early Bird Breakdown Week 12: Vikings @ Packers
Early Bird Breakdown Week 12: Vikings @ Packers
Continuing the on-going series of early morning Packer game previews, we first take a quick look back at last week’s contest:
The Good: Tramon Williams
Tramon Williams after the first quarter showed flashes of his younger self. He ended the team streak without an interception (the last one was week 8 versus Cleveland). He made some good tackles, and his coverage improved (first quarter not included). There weren’t many bright spots last week, but Williams was one of the more positive ones.
The Bad: Scott Tolzien
I was tempted to put the offense as a whole, but the reason everything came apart was because of Tolzien. The Giants loaded the box and absolutely stuffed the running game. The receivers could not make a play because he couldn’t get them the ball. And the defense was in tough spots thanks to the turnovers. We can’t judge Tolzien too harshly because he was the practice squad quarterback but even so if he continues to struggle the Packers who looked so promising may be over before the season winds to a close. Relative to a third string, I think he actually was not that bad. If he only threw one pick instead of three, he would probably been my, “good.”
The Ugly: The losing streak
The last time Green Bay lost three in a row, it was in 2008. The team has a lot of young players not used to losing and with Rodgers not out there, pressure to win every week begins to compound. Tolzien and the offense need to turn it around for Green Bay to try and get hot for a wild card spot for Rodgers, and that may be asking too much and could begin to make this get worse. The coming weeks will show whether or not that is the case.
How I did:
“23-17 Green Bay over the Giants” – Well, I was right Eli would break the Packers’ streak of not getting an interception. What I didn’t account for was that Tolzien would throw three times as many even after getting more acclimated to the offense. Lacy was non-existent, he was blanked the whole game from a Giants team that didn’t fear the pass. The real final was 27-13 Giants.
Minnesota lost by 21 points in Seattle in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. 41-20 does not convey the complete control Seattle had in that game, though to be fair Seattle is to me the most complete team in the NFL and if they lock up home field going to the Super Bowl. Still, Minnesota has only won one game in the past six weeks since their bye.
Packers’ Offense vs. Vikings’ Defense:
Minnesota’s defense has not improved since the last contest. They rank 29th against the pass and 14th against the run, and 30th overall. However, without Rodgers this offense has scored 20, 13, and 13 each of the last three games, the last two of which were handled by Tolzien. Green Bay needs to throw the ball to beat Minnesota, as their run defense has been decent all season, and the way defenses have keyed in on Lacy the last two weeks, it will be up to Tolzien to carry the team and that is not an ideal situation. The silver lining is that Minnesota is not particularly good at generating turnovers, tied for 20th on interceptions.
Packers’ Defense vs. Vikings’ Offense:
The good news is that Minnesota’s offense is not particularly that threatening. They are 25th in throwing and 17th rushing. However, what they do is consistently score 20 points, including scoring a season-high 31 during the last Packer game. Green Bay’s defense will need to not be broken by big plays this week, something that has hurt them all season. All three Minnesota quarterbacks are prone to turnovers, though Green Bay has little success capitalizing on opponent’s mistakes this season, tied for last on the season. The best thing going for Green Bay is the inconsistency of the quarterback situation. Ponder looked good against Washington until he separated his shoulder, then looked terrible against Seattle. If Ponder throws as many or more interceptions as Tolzien, Green Bay will win the game.
The Weather Factor:
The early kickoff will be the first truly cold game for Green Bay during this warm fall. Temperatures will be around 20o Fahrenheit but otherwise it will be sunshine and light winds. The Packers generally are more used to cold environments but Minnesota knows what it is like to play in the cold; should be a non-factor.
Call me optimistic, but I think Green Bay finally wins a game. Tolzien has been impressive on deep throws, this secondary is bad, and his turnovers only seem to happen short. Ponder is banged up and the team is playing pretty poorly. Having said that, Green Bay has not shown it can score as consistently as the Vikings in the last three weeks, ouch. I think Green Bay, fueled at home by a smoother game from Tolzien gets there. Green Bay over the Vikings 24-20.
Green Bay’s Defense (in a deep league): Sure, they haven’t played well recently, but neither has Minnesota’s offense!
Adrian Peterson: Has seen an increase in carries over the last three weeks since the Green Bay game. He will get his chances and will almost assuredly get to double digits.
Jordy Nelson & Jarrett Boykin: Both continue to look good with Tolzien, but everyone else should sit.
Every other Viking: without knowing who finishes the game at quarterback it is too tough to pick trends. Minnesota keeps shuffling the starter mid game.