Tale of the Tape: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings hope their latest foray into the national spotlight is more successful than their previous one.
Christian Ponder takes the latest spin on the Vikings' quarterbacking merry-go-'round as Minnesota hosts Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Minnesota is coming off an ugly 23-7 loss to the previously winless New York Giants in the Monday nighter.
Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:
Led by the cannon arm of Rodgers, the Packers boast an impressive pass offense ranked fourth in the league in yards per game (300). Rodgers' 13 touchdown passes rank Green Bay in a tie for seventh-most in the NFL, and he has been intercepted just four times so far in 2013. The Packers' rush attack has been stout as well, averaging 134.7 yards per contest - sixth-most in the league.
The Minnesota QB carousel - featuring appearances by Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman - has yielded predictably subpar results. The Vikings are averaging just 214 passing yards per game - tied with Seattle for 24th in the league - with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. The running game has been underwhelming, as well - despite boasting defending rushing champion Adrian Peterson, Minnesota ranks 19th in the NFL with 102 yards per game.
Edge: Green Bay
The Green Bay pass defense has struggled all season long. The Packers have yielded 267 yards through the air per game - tied for 23rd - with 12 touchdowns against and just three interceptions. The outlook has been much brighter when it comes to run defense, however. Green Bay has surrendered the fewest total rush yards (474), the third-lowest per-game average (79) and just three total touchdowns on the ground.
Minnesota's offensive struggles have been accentuated thanks to a pass defense that has also underperformed. The Vikings are getting torched for 289 passing yards per game - the fourth-highest mark in the league - while surrendering 14 touchdowns. Minnesota has been better in run defense, ranking 14th at 102.3 yards against per game while forcing five fumbles - tied for the fifth-most in the NFL.
Edge: Green Bay
There is no worse kick-return unit than Green Bay, which averages just 14.9 yards on 10 attempts. The Packers are more effective in the punt-return game, ranked 10th in the league at 9.7 yards per attempts. Green Bay is surrendering a league-high 29.5 yards per kickoff return but just 7.9 yards per punt return try. Packers kicker Mason Crosby has connected on 14 of 16 field-goal attempts, going 1-for-2 in last week's 31-13 triumph over the Cleveland Browns.
Minnesota is one of only two teams with a kickoff return touchdown this season, helping bolster its average return to 30.4 yards - good for second in the NFL. The Vikings also rank second in punt return average (15.9). Minnesota allows the second-highest kick return average (29.1) but ranks a respectable 11th in opposing punt return average (7.1). Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh is 9-for-11 on field goals, but is dealing with a hamstring injury.
"Eddie (Lacy) is running the ball well right now. I'm just trying to take some of the load off of Eddie and split up the remaining reps between Johnathan (Franklin) and James (Starks), because James and Johnathan still bring some unique abilities to the run game." - Packers running backs coach Alex Van Pelt on the team's versatile rushing game
"It's a phenomenal organization. I had to make my departure. There were some things said that, man, if I could say it over again I would re-word it so that it can be conveyed a little differently. But they were said, and I can't focus on that." - Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings, referring to comments made when asked about his time with the Packers