Packers vs Vikings Review | 5 Things We Learned
The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings waged battle on Monday Night Football in week 10 at Lambeau Field, with the reigning champion Packers flat-out embarrassing Minnesota, 45-7.
Clearly there’s not much to talk about in terms of competition in this one, but there are still some things worth noting from this Packers and Vikings matchup. Here are five things we learned from last night:
1. Aaron Rodgers is the Man
Honestly, who is ever going to stop this guy? I know it’s not just about A-Rod, but he’s on pace to break all of the major individual season passing records. And I know we all know he’s awesome, but after four touchdowns off of 23-for-30 passing in front of the nation, Rodgers is sitting pretty with 28 touchdowns through nine games. Nine games. It’s worth noting that he passed for 28 touchdowns in all of last season. He also has added two more touchdowns on the ground in 2011, along with 2,869 passing yards, while completing an unreal 72.9% of his passes.
If you’re not already gushing, try checking out this stat: Over his last three contests, he has 13 touchdowns to just 18 incompletions. Oh, and he’s thrown just three picks on the year. I don’t think you have to look very far to figure out why the Pack is 9-0. Aaron Rodgers is playing the quarterback position better than we’ve ever seen.
2. James Starks Could Be Good if the Packers Needed Him
Starks has averaged at least 4.8 yards per carry in three straight games, and is really starting to impress with a solid burst and underrated power when attacking the middle of the defense. Ryan Grant is viewed as the stronger runner, but it was pretty evident on MNF that isn’t the case. At all. Starks is more elusive in open space (although no homerun hitter), and he runs harder than Grant. On top of that, he’s been far more effective. Not that Green Bay ever needs to run the ball, but if they did, they probably know Starks has the ability to be leaned on.
In fantasy circles, it’s worth noting that Starks has the clear leg-up on Grant these days, and has carried the ball at least 12 times in six straight contests.
3. Jared Allen is Being Held Back by a Bad Team
Allen is as good as ever this season, as he’s already racked up 13.5 sacks through nine contests. He got to Aaron Rodgers last night, and has now registered at least .5 sacks in every single game this year. Minnesota’s pass-rush is solid outside of him, but he’s clearly the engine that still makes this defense go. They weren’t great against Green Bay on MNF, but that has much more to do with the Vikings’ horrible pass defense, and less to do with Allen’s ineffectiveness. He’s a lock to tally 20+ sacks for the first time in his career.
4. Christian Ponder is the Answer
He wasn’t as impressive as he was in his last meeting with Green Bay, but if you know football, you know progress when you see it. I know just seven points on the road in a huge game seems like a step back, and in a sense it most certainly is, but Ponder is continuing to show he’s the guy at quarterback for Minnesota. He rolls out and makes plays with his legs extremely well, can make all the throws, takes shots down the field, and is improving in his awareness and reaction against pressure.
The only thing that could really hold back Ponder are his weak weapons, as well as his mediocre arm strength. So far, his arm strength really hasn’t been an issue, and he’s mostly dealt with inconsistency out of his wide receivers. He had two stellar plays wiped away from a Michael Jenkins drop and an offensive pass interference call on Percy Harvin after a long pass play. The results aren’t there just yet, but Ponder is making progress and will be the answer for the Vikings under center.
5. Minnesota’s Pass Defense is Bad, and Just Got Worse
We knew the Vikings weren’t very good at stopping the pass before this game, but now we really know. Not just because Aaron Rodgers had his way with them (he does that to everyone), but because they just miss a ton of assignments and are late to passes way too often. Losing Antoine Winfield for the remainder of the season in this one (clavicle) only makes it worse for the rest of the year.
But Wait, There’s More…
6. Jordy Nelson is a Number One Receiver
Nelson has proven time and again in 2011 that he needs the ball more in this offense. You can say it’s the system or Rodgers all you want, but I can safely say I believe Nelson could be a number one receiver on a lot of teams, and would be as effective as he is right now. His blend of size, speed, and play-making ability isn’t something you see all over the league, and his ability to consistently produce when the ball goes his way is uncanny. The beautiful thing is, unlike past years, he really makes the most of his opportunities. Even in an offense that spreads the ball around as much as the Packers do, Nelson already has 633 yards and seven touchdowns through nine games. However, his most telling stat is easily his 18.6 yards per catch, which exhibits his big-play ability, as well as his tendency to create after the catch.
7. Kyle Rudolph Should be Starting
I don’t hate Visanthe Shiancoe, but with Kyle Rudolph continuing to make big plays in limited chances, the end has to be getting closer. Shank’ is over 30 and isn’t a freak athlete, while Rudolph has all the same skills as him, but is younger and arguably faster and more athletic. He’s also an even bigger red-zone target.
8. The Packers Will Go 19-0
I know it was just the Vikings, but with every passing game, I just don’t see how Green Bay loses. At all. Aaron Rodgers is just about flawless every week, and his defense does just enough with turnovers to get him more opportunities and to shut the opposition down. The defense actually stepped up this week and showed they can limit a team outside of turnovers, as well, which is a very scary thought.