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Vikings-Packers: The Rematch



After a 44-31 loss in week 8, the Vikings head to Lambeau Field to face a Green Bay team plagued by injury for their second match-up of the season.
22/8/8/1.

These four numbers represent four of the most important defensive statistics in regards to overall team success, and correlate strongly to the lack of success seen by the Minnesota Vikings this season.

22 sacks by the Minnesota Vikings place them tied for 24th (out of 32) in the NFL so far this season, and the final four teams on bye this week are all ahead of the Vikings in this regard. The complete lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been well-documented this season. Jared Allen, once a fearsome pass-rusher, has slowed in his 10th season as a professional, and has recorded only five sacks in 10 games. The rest of the defensive line has demonstrated inconsistent play as well.

The two victories the Vikings have this season, against the Steelers in London week 4, and against the Redskins week 10, have been the Vikings most active on the defensive front by far, recording six and four sacks in those games, respectively. This means in the Vikings eight losses, they have sacked the opposing quarterbacks 12 times. For a team with a slow linebacking core and a secondary comprised of guys on the wrong end of Sports Center's weekly top 10, this lack of pressure has set the defense up to fail.

8 interceptions by the Vikings defense this season places them in a tie for 20th in the NFL. This is not an anomaly; the Vikings defense routinely ranks toward the bottom of the NFL in interceptions each season. 10 (27th), 8 (last), 15 (17th), 11 (26th), and 12 (21st) are the Vikings defense interception totals from their past five completed seasons, along with their respective ranking in the NFL. The Vikings have been in the bottom half of the NFL for the past half-decade (at least, I only checked back 5 seasons) in term of forcing interceptions, and are looking to continue that streak this year.

8 fumbles forced again places the Vikings low in the NFL defensive rankings. However, there is some good news here for you Vikings fans out there: the Vikings have recovered an astonishing (and unsustainable; all good news comes with some bad in Viking land) 75% of the fumbles they have forced.

The most frustrating part of the fact the Vikings force so few fumbles, and by extension provide so few opportunities to provide extra offensive possessions, is that both the Packers and the Bears do such a great job forcing fumbles. The Bears revolutionized the art of forcing fumbles, with one defender standing up the ball carrier, and others flocking in trying to tear it away. Seeing the teams the Vikings compete with for a playoff spot each season (well, maybe not so much this season) dominate this category as the Vikings flounder provides decent insight into where the Vikings need to improve to become competitive again.

1 defensive touchdown, kickoff and punt returns not included, is the final statistic to denote futility by the Vikings defensive unit. This season, the Vikings are one of only 5 teams without a TAINT (Touchdown after interception, also known as a pick-six). A fumble recovery and 61-yard scamper by Brian Robison against the Bears in week 2 is the Vikings only defensive touchdown this season, which puts them in a tie with 11 other teams for 19th in the NFL. Only the Saints and Steelers have been shut out defensively so far this season.

This extensive preamble was to highlight the points of emphasis for the Vikings this weekend in Green Bay. Scott Tolzien is most likely getting the start for the Packers at quarterback as Aaron Rodgers continues recover from a shoulder injury, and this should provide the Vikings defense with as good an opportunity as any to improve upon those previous four numbers.

Pressure by the four guys up front, and the decision-making by Tolzien will determine this game. Tolzien threw for over 300 yards last week against the Giants, but also threw 3 interceptions. Should he be so careless again, and provide the Vikings with 3 extra possessions, the boys in purple could surprise everyone this weekend.



9 Comments

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Seth Keysor
Nov 23 2013 03:40 AM

The Vikings have to at least be excited at the prospect of putting the first nail in the coffin of the Packers postseason dreams.

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Colin Bruns
Nov 23 2013 03:58 AM

The Vikes really haven't had the ball hawk, play-making type in the secondary since Darren Sharper. Harrison Smith definitely brings that to the table- he has 1/4 of the team's interceptions this year in just 5 games. Without him, picks are going to continue to be hard to come by.

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John Wenker
Nov 23 2013 04:00 AM

The Vikings have to at least be excited at the prospect of putting the first nail in the coffin of the Packers postseason dreams.

 

This game has upset written all over it, I feel. The Vikings will be away from the Dome, which is a good thing for Christian Ponder. They have little to play for, which will make them a dangerous team to play these last few weeks.

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John Wenker
Nov 23 2013 04:02 AM

The Vikes really haven't had the ball hawk, play-making type in the secondary since Darren Sharper. Harrison Smith definitely brings that to the table- he has 1/4 of the team's interceptions this year in just 5 games. Without him, picks are going to continue to be hard to come by.

 

Don't forget Kevin Williams has an interception as well by means of a Jay Cutler tipped ball in the end zone. While it is a turnover caused by the Vikings defense, relying on your defensive tackle to come up with interceptions is about as realistic as recovering fumbles at a 75% clip.

Vikings have a chance to put nail on the coffin on Green Bay's playoff chances
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John Wenker
Nov 23 2013 01:52 PM

Vikings have a chance to put nail on the coffin on Green Bay's playoff chances

 

I don't think I would go that far. Depending on how Aaron Rodgers is healing, the Packers are far from out of it, even with a loss here.

 

The Packers still have games against the Lions and Bears yet this season, as well as games against a pu-pu-platter consisting of Atlanta, Dallas, and Pittsburgh. Every one of those games is winnable for them

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PackersFanInNC
Nov 23 2013 03:16 PM

I don't think I would go that far. Depending on how Aaron Rodgers is healing, the Packers are far from out of it, even with a loss here.

The Packers still have games against the Lions and Bears yet this season, as well as games against a pu-pu-platter consisting of Atlanta, Dallas, and Pittsburgh. Every one of those games is winnable for them


Disagree. It really depends on what happens Sunday. A loss actually might be the final nail. Say GB loses, best they can finish is 10-6. I definitely dont see 10-6 good enough to win North and it may not even be good enough for a WC if you look at how good the NFC is right now. GB MUST win on Sunday because a loss never helps a team in this part of the season lol (duh).
    • John Wenker likes this
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John Wenker
Nov 23 2013 04:44 PM

Disagree. It really depends on what happens Sunday. A loss actually might be the final nail. Say GB loses, best they can finish is 10-6. I definitely dont see 10-6 good enough to win North and it may not even be good enough for a WC if you look at how good the NFC is right now. GB MUST win on Sunday because a loss never helps a team in this part of the season lol (duh).

 

At this point in the season, each of the 3 teams competing for the NFC North have their own fate in their hands. GB can help their cause dramatically with wins against both the Bears and Lions in upcoming weeks. If they don't win those games, they don't deserve to make the playoffs anyway.

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Chris Schad
Nov 25 2013 10:58 PM

As it turned out, a tie may have helped the Packers. If Green Bay didn't control their own destiny before this game, they really are now.

 

A tie helps the Packers because they likely don't have to mess with tiebreakers. At 6-5-1, it's better than 6-6 because a 10-5-1 record could get them into the playoffs. They have some winnable games coming up and if Rodgers can get healthy in time, I still think they can make a run.

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