GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-4)
at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (9-6)
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Line: Green Bay -3, Total: 46
Green Bay tries to complete a perfect December when it visits playoff-hopeful Minnesota on Sunday.
The Packers can clinch a first round playoff bye with a win, while the Vikings can clinch a postseason berth with a victory. The Packers have trounced the Vikings of late, beating them five in a row SU (4-1 ATS). That included a 23-14 victory at Minnesota earlier this month at Green Bay, a game in which the Packers were desperately looking for a workaround with their patchwork offensive line. Green Bay has also won all three of its games since then, including last week’s 55-7 blowout of Tennessee. The Vikings’ best hope is once again Adrian Peterson, who had 210 rushing yards in the Week 13 loss to the Packers. But Minnesota has won all three games since that defeat.
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Green Bay has some good news on the injury front, as it appears both WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and RB Alex Green (concussion) will return to the field this week. However, the status is still uncertain for WR Randall Cobb (ankle). There is nothing uncertain about how well Aaron Rodgers plays indoors, as he has thrown for 288 YPG, 14 TD and 2 INT in his four dome games in 2012. Even with the uncertainty surrounding Cobb and Nelson, Rodgers can still lean on WRs James Jones and a finally-healthy Greg Jennings as reliable options to throw the football to. Jones has 13 touchdowns this season and Jennings has owned the venue formerly known as the Metrodome, catching 14 passes for 299 yards and 4 TD in his past two trips to Minnesota. The Packers backfield has been a walking wounded this year, but veteran Ryan Grant was a great find on the waiver wire, as he racked up 114 total yards in last week's 55-7 laugher over Tennessee. The Vikings defense is not easy to run against though, as they allow 108 rushing YPG on 3.9 YPC, and just stuffed a great Texans run defense, holding them to 34 yards on 16 carries.
Peterson did not play during the final drive of last week's win in Houston due to a sore abdomen, but he will start on Sunday. He needs just 102 rushing yards to reach 2,000 for the season, and he has always run well against Green Bay (11 G, 1,243 yards, 113 YPG, 5.6 YPC, 8 TD). It also makes more sense for Minnesota to run the football with its team average of 5.4 YPC, which is nearly as good as its paltry 5.6 YPA from QB Christian Ponder. The second-year pro has been awful against the Packers in his young career, completing 45% of his passes for 528 yards (5.8 YPA), 3 TD and 5 INT in three meetings. With top WR Percy Harvin (ankle) out for the season, Ponder will look mostly for TE Kyle Rudolph who has four touchdowns over the past six games. Green Bay's pass defense is strong, surrendering just 218 passing YPG (6.0 YPA) this season. And it will be even stronger if S Charles Woodson (collarbone) is able to return to the field this week, which looks like it could happen.