Packers Closing Stretch

So with the Lions loss to the NYG on Sunday, GB is just 1 game back in the NFC North.  Detroit has a rough closing stretch playing @ Dallas on Monday December 26th.   The Cowboys will have 11 days to prepare after playing on Thursday this week.  Detroit will then have to turn around and play GB likely Sunday night coming off the Monday night game @ Dallas.  GB will have extra rest to prepare @ Dallas since GB hosts the Vikings this Saturday.

Shortest route to the postseason is always the division but GB at present is still the #6 in the NFC (h/t Jordan Loeb).  The only other real competition is TB.  GB beating Minnesota this weekend eliminates the Vikings.  TB closes @ New Orleans and home vs. Carolina.  I would bet on TB losing at least once more but as long as GB keeps winning it doesn’t matter what TB does.

The NYG with only 4 losses can secure at least the #5 with a win in either of its last 2 games.  GB would need 2 wins and 2 NYG losses to steal the #5 on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

A GB win + Detroit loss @ Dallas would bring us back to tied in the NFC North.

A GB win + Detroit win @ Dallas would keep Detroit 1 game ahead (relatively meaningless given the Week 17 tilt)

A GB loss + Detroit loss @ Dallas keeps things status quo but makes the shot at the #6 seed (NYG probably have the #5 locked up) tougher and in need of assistance from TB losing.

A GB loss + Detroit win @ Dallas clinches the NFC North for Detroit.  GB would still technically be alive for a wild card.  Minnesota would have the head-to-head tiebreaker in this scenario based on a season sweep so GB would need to win @ Detroit in Week 17 + Chicago win @ Minnesota + 1 TB loss in the last 2 weeks.

tl:dr: keep winning.

The Vikings started 5-0 with a healthy Sam Bradford directing an efficient offense and the top scoring defense suffocating the opposition. Then things sort of fell apart as the Vikings went 2-7 with the only wins vs Arizona and @Jacksonville.

Offense

The biggest problem has been that 3 OT are on IR (as a reminder, you start 2) and the rest of the OL isn’t exactly even mediocre.  In addition, while Stefon Diggs torched Damarious Randall in Week 2 (9-182-1 TD), the rest of the Vikings WR haven’t been sublime.  Bradford has never been known for a rocket arm, but he ranks #22 (Rodgers only #17) in Yard-Per-Attempt.  The Vikings have nothing going down the field.  Adrian Peterson got injured during the Packer game in Week 2 but returned last week.  All this has led to an anemic offensive attack that a stellar D could only carry for so long.

Viking Offensive Stats

#21 Passing Yards (230.9/per game)

#32 Rushing Yards (70.6/per game)

T-#25 Points Per Game (18.9)

In theory this should mean the usual stuff about defense and special teams for field position.  If GB had any healthy remaining OLB or even one capable of using both his hands, they should be able to get pressure on Minnesota and not worrying even a little about play action or vertical throws.

Defense

The Vikings D is still solid and keeping the dwindling playoff hopes alive.

Vikings Defensive Stats

#6 Points Per Game (18.5) and Points (259)

#18 Rushing Yard Per Game (106.3)

#3 Passing yards Per Game (205.6)

According to the Journal Sentinel scouting report, the Vikings superstar S Harrison Smith is not expected to play.  He’s a beast in run support and solid in pass coverage.  Earl Thomas is better but Smith should be right up there in terms of best S in the game.  The JS article also notes some injuries on the DL for Minnesota.  The 34 allowed to the Colts last week was obviously its worst defensive performance of the season.  The Vikings had allowed 16-17-16 in the previous 3 games.  But again, the D can only do so much. At some point the offense has to score points.

Summation

GB needs to win this to keep its NFC North championship firmly in its own hands.  The Vikings offense is struggling mightily right now meaning its incumbent on GB to not give them any help with turnovers, penalties, and special teams mistakes.  A clean game should favor GB.  Defensively, a stout run defense against a bad Vikings OL should put Sam Bradford behind the chains and even without much of a pass rush (against a bad Vikings OL), GB shouldn’t play soft coverage since the Vikings aren’t a vertical passing threat.  If they hit a couple throws (like in Week 2), tip your cap.  But until then, I would press on the outside and dare the Vikings OL to hold up and Bradford to be able to connect.  Offensively a good running game can wear down the Vikings front and slow down the Vikings pass rushers using play action.  Hopefully the calf/hamstring is feeling better for #12 enabling him to move around a bit.

I’m supposed to be at the game this Saturday so I won’t be live blogging.

 

 

 

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