Playoff football is here, and the new year is ushering in a divisional showdown between the Vikings and Packers. This will mark the fifth time in the last ten years that a playoff game features a week 17 rematch. According to ESPN’s John Clayton, the home team has won three of these.
Like any sport, football can be analyzed from a number of angles. Analysts could speak for days on the importance of offensive line play, how quarterbacks react to the snow, and a number of other factors. Saturday’s Vikings-Packers rematch can certainly be viewed in such a manner, but it isn’t a stretch to boil the game down to one factor: Adrian Peterson.
By this point, it has been well established that Adrian Peterson is a foreign creature who was created in an alien laboratory using nuclear-infused components. No one is going to argue that. Game-planning doesn’t affect this football robot, and the most conservative estimate would likely see Peterson still approaching the century mark in rushing yards versus Green Bay. Mind you, Peterson has amassed 409 yards in two regular season meetings with the Packers this season, so a 150-yard day would clearly be a gigantic letdown.
If the Packers have somehow contacted Adrian Peterson’s home planet and obtained the secret to slowing him down (Kryptonite? Hummus? Weird paintings of clowns?), the Green Bay conditions and Christian Ponder will likely stall the Vikings’ offense. After letting Peterson run all over them, one would think that the Packers would have studied the tape and devised a strategy to contain him from all sides.
But that’s the problem. After watching what has to be the lovechild of Hercules and Bo Jackson for an entire season, it’s obvious that putting guys in the right place on a whiteboard doesn’t mean squat. What is so incredible about Peterson is that guys are there and he just runs over and around them.
This may be a pointless suggestion -- and I certainly have no specific pointers for how to go about it – but, as simple as it sounds, Green Bay needs to tackle Peterson. Yeah, my brilliant piece of advice is to perform the most basic element of the game. I’m not sure what I can say that will give the Packer defense a better chance of using their meager human bodies to take down a mechanized Greek God of a running back, but that’s the key to the game. Peterson makes his living getting rid of defenders when he has anything resembling space, and if Green Bay lets him get away time and time again then odds are they will probably not be moving on in the tournament.
This preview has not mentioned the Packers offense, Vikings defense, or really any other people (he’s not a person, just throwing it out there) other than Adrian Peterson, but this preview is alleging that the Peterson Problem is what will determine the game. The play of Christian Ponder and the Vikings defense will decide how much Minnesota is able to rely on AD, and if he gets his touches, then Green Bay is in for a long day.