You can use a lot of words to describe the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Small, outdated, and cramped are all accurate. So are loud, successful, and intimidating. But the word I most often hear associated with the Metrodome is dump.
It might not be fair, but I feel like it’s accurate. So much of the stadium is just uncomfortable and out of date. If the Metrodome was an apartment, it would have doorways that are 11 inches too narrow, hot water that only works some of the time, and the walls would be painted a not-quite-lavender shade of purple. Functional, yes, but you wouldn’t really want to live there if you didn’t have to. Calling it a dump encompasses all those more unpleasant aspects of the stadium.
Of course, the Packers have certainly had their troubles there. Just 12-18 at the Metrodome since it opened, the Packers have been frustrated leaving Minnesota as often as they’ve been happy, and with seemingly nothing left to compete for this year, the Vikings might be just dangerous enough to lay it all on the table and give the Packers one last kick in the teeth as they leave the Metrodome for the last time.
5 - Starters the Packers will be missing if James Jones doesn’t play Sunday. Jermichael Finley, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Randall Cobb have all been definitively ruled out, and if Jones doesn’t show some serious progress in the next couple days, he’ll join them on the sideline.
4 - Minnesota Vikings to record an interception this year: Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Harrison Smith, and Kevin Williams. Of those four, only Smith is a defensive back. The Vikings’ secondary has been their Achilles heel on defense in the last few years, and while Smith does bring some panache to the position group, Minnesota’s defensive backs still have a ways to go.
3 - Starting quarterbacks trotted out by the Vikings so far this season. Former first round pick Christian Ponder will get the start this week, but he’s already lost his job once so far this season. Matt Cassel got the nod in relief of Ponder earlier this year, but even he couldn’t hold off the newly acquired Josh Freeman, who’s being forced to the sidelines this week with a concussion. You follow all that? Good, because it looks the Vikings might be ready to make another change at quarterback:
Not really, obviously. But how cool would it be to see Jared Allen back there? I could go for that.
2 - Touchdown receptions by Greg jennings so far this season. The former Packers receiver has been…well, he hasn’t been great in Minnesota. But that’s as much the fault of the quarterback as it is Jennings. You really have to wonder if Jennings would still go to Minnesota if he had the chance to do it all over again.
1 - Misses by Mason Crosby on field goal attempts inside of 50 yards. “Missin’ Mason” of 2012 is gone, it seems, and Crosby has resumed his previously excellent form. His solid kicking should continue inside the Vikings’ dome on Sunday.
Last Time - Packers: 24 Vikings: 10 – January 5, 2013
After Christian Ponder was ruled out shortly before gametime, this one was never really a contest. Despite the pre-game hype, the Joe Webb Experience never really left the ground…
…and the Packers took care of business en route to a playoff win. Aaron Rodgers was efficient (23/33, 274 yards, 1 TD), DuJuan Harris ran tough (47 yards on 17 attempts) and Clay Matthews took Webb down twice as the Packers dismissed Minnesota.
Meet a Viking - Greg Jennings – 5’11, 195 lbs – WR – 8th NFL season
Joking and quarterback issues aside, Greg Jennings remains a talented NFL player. His route running has always been silky smooth, and when healthy, Jennings can be a handful. Of course, the Vikings still need to find someone who can get him the ball, but that doesn’t take away from his ability at all. Look for Sam Shields to follow him wherever he goes.
(Sorry, I would have used Vikings highlights but he doesn’t have any. OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH)
The Vikings will win if…
….Christian Ponder overcomes his recent demons and posts a performance like he did in the last game the Packers played at the Metrodome: a 37-34 Minnesota victory. Ponder played what might have been his best game as a pro, completing 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards and 3 TD’s as the Vikings earned a spot in the playoffs. If the Vikings want anything close to a chance at winning,
The Packers will win if…
…they can contain Adrian Peterson and force Ponder to beat them. Peterson has been off to a rough start this year, although he’s slightly ahead of where he was during last year’s 2000 yard campaign. Without regard to his stats, though, he remains the Vikings’ offensive workhorse. If the Packers can eliminate Peterson, Ponder will have to be the one who carries the load, and he hasn’t given any indication that he can do that so far this year.
The Pick: Packers: 31 Vikings: 17
The Packers will sprint out to an early lead and cruise, with the Vikings making up ground late. The score will look closer than it really is.
The Rest (home team in ALL CAPS)
Panthers over PACKERS
49ers over JAGUARS
CHIEFS over Browns
PATRIOTS over Dolphins
SAINTS over Bills
Cowboys over LIONS
EAGLES over Giants
Steelers over RAIDERS
BENGALS over Jets
Falcons over CARDINALS
BRONCOS over Redskins
Seahawks over RAMS
Last week: 10-5
Tweet of the Week
After running down Browns kick returner Travis Benjamin (who has been clocked at 4.3 seconds flat in the 40 yard dash) on his 86 yard kick return on Sunday, Packers rookie Micah Hyde wondered why everybody’s questioning his speed.