Packers go into tonight's game the favorite at homeRegional Sports
-- It doesn’t matter that the Minnesota Vikings edged Green Bay 37-34 less than a week ago. Moving to the home turf at Lambeau Field makes the Packers a seven and a half point favorite in tonight’s NFC wild card playoff game.
GREEN BAY - It doesn’t matter that the Minnesota Vikings edged Green Bay 37-34 less than a week ago. Moving to the home turf at Lambeau Field makes the Packers a seven and a half point favorite in tonight’s NFC wild card playoff game.
Slowing down Adrian Peterson would be a nice start. He gouged the Packer defense for more than 400 yards and nearly seven and a half yards per carry as the teams split two games during the season. It was the All-Pro running back’s 26-year run that set up the game-winning field goal last Sunday. That made him just the seventh running back in NFL history to rush for more than two thousand yards. Green Bay hopes its defense gives a stronger performance than it did while allowing 435 yards a week ago.
Kickoff time is at 7 p.m. Central time and the game will be broadcast on Fox.
Defensive back Charles Woodson is considered probable for today’s game against the Vikings. He’s been out for the last nine games after breaking his collarbone against the Rams. Cornerback Tramon Williams missed practice yesterday with flu-like symptoms and could be questionable for the wild card game. Wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb did practice are expected to be set to play. Receiver Jarrett Boykin and defensive end Jerel Worthy are out. For the Vikings, quarterback Christian Ponder and cornerback Antoine Winfield are considered to be questionable, although Ponder says he will play. They were limited in practice this week, with Winfield not working at all yesterday.
Minnesota Vikings’ corner Antoine Winfield says he’ll play tomorrow night against the Packers in Green Bay, even with a broken bone in his one of his hands. He aggravated the injury during last Sunday’s regular season finale in Minneapolis, in which the Pack lost to the Vikes by three. The veteran Winfield says he’ll have the entire off-season to recover – and he doesn’t want to miss the playoffs. Winfield is expected to wear a specialized cast over his broken hand. Tomorrow night’s game begins at seven at Lambeau Field. If the Packers win, they’ll be at San Francisco next week in the divisional round. If Minnesota wins, they’ll head to Atlanta.
The Vikings will try to win their first outdoor game of the year at Green Bay tomorrow night. Minnesota went 0-4 this season with the sky directly over their heads. Those losses were at Chicago, Seattle, Washington, and Green Bay on December second. The other 12 Viking games during the regular season were played in domes – and Minnesota went 10-2 in those contests.
The Packers have chosen six players as captains for the playoffs. They are quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver James Jones on offense – linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Charles Woodson on defense – and Jamari Lattimore and Jarrett Bush on special teams. They’ll all wear the “C’s” on their jerseys which identify the captains on the field. The Packers don’t wear those patches during the regular season, because they rotate their captains for every game. But for the playoffs, they have the same captains for as long as they play. Rodgers, Bush, and Woodson have all been post-season captains in past years.
National media reports say Packers’ football operations director John Dorsey could be in line for a pair of jobs elsewhere. Dorsey will reportedly be interviewed for the general manager’s opening with the New York Jets. And he could be in line for a similar post in Kansas City if former Packers’ assistant coach Andy Reid becomes the next head man with the Chiefs. Dorsey assumed his current post last year. That was after he was the Packers’ director of college scouting from 1997 through 2011, with a two-year break during that stretch. Dorsey was also a college scout for Green Bay from 1991-through-’97 – and he played with the Pack for six seasons before that.
For the first time since late September, Aaron Rodgers is expected to have all four of his top receivers for more than one series tomorrow night. The Green Bay Packers will host Minnesota in the Wild Card playoff round. And Rodgers will have receivers Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb at the ready. All four were available the first time the Pack played the Vikings on December second. But Nelson went out after his first play with an aggravated hamstring injury. All four could be No. 1 receivers on other teams – and Jennings may go that route after this year. But for now, Jennings says the Packer offense can rack up even bigger numbers than it has – because the four receivers give Rodgers many more options. Only Jones made it through the regular season without an injury. And he led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches. Cobb was healthy all year until he hurt a knee-and-ankle two weeks ago. He’s back at full strength now, and he lead the Packers in the regular season with 954 yards and 80 catches – plus the yards he racked up on kickoff and punt returns. Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements also counts tight end Jermichael Finley as a major target – and he says Rodgers can go to any one of them and get a big play. Like Jennings, Finley’s also playing out his contract – and he set a Packer record for catches by a tight end with 61 this season.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and kicker Blair Walsh have won NFC awards. Peterson was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month after rushing for 861 yards and five touchdowns in December. Walsh is the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for his efforts in making 11 out of 12 field goals, including a perfect five-for-five mark from beyond 50 yards.
Alcohol sales will end earlier than usual tomorrow night at the Green Bay Packers-Vikings playoff game at Lambeau Field. Officials announced sales will cease at the start of the third quarter, instead of at the end of the game -- in an effort to limit rowdy fan behavior which led to some fights and ejections at the last Packers-Vikings game in Green Bay. Officials say the change is not the start of a new policy, but was put in place specifically for this playoff game.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Green Bay counterpart Jim Schmitt have a friendly bet on Saturday's Vikings-Packers playoff game. Rybak will wager house-made sausages from Butcher and Boar in Minneapolis which was recently named Restaurant of the Year. Schmitt is betting BelGioioso (b cheese, Sno-cap Root Beer from Titletown Brewing and Beernsten's Candies. Minneapolis Mayor Rybak says he's looking forward to giving new meaning to "Skol Vikings" with a good chug of Green Bay root beer and a side of Green Bay cheese.
If you’re going to tomorrow night’s Packer playoff game in Green Bay, the players will be much warmer than you. The standard heaters will be at both benches – but the playing surface itself will be toasty-warm, with the goal of creating the best playing conditions possible. Plastic pipes with anti-freeze are covered by a foot of sand below the surface – and temperature sensors keep the turf from freezing. The grounds crew can make adjustments if necessary, by using a central control dashboard. It’s designed to keep the mix of natural and artificial grasses at 55-degrees when the air temperature falls to zero. It won’t be nearly that cold tomorrow night. Readings are expected to be in the low 20’s for the 7 p.m. kickoff, with a slight chance of either snow flurries or patchy light drizzle.
You can hardly call this an official act. But one of Tammy Baldwin’s first tasks as a United States senator was to place a bet with her colleagues on tomorrow night’s Packer-Viking playoff game. The Democrat Baldwin of Madison and Wisconsin Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Oshkosh are teaming up against Minnesota’s two senators in a wager which, according to Baldwin, has brought some trash talk to the Senate’s hallowed halls. Minnesota DFLers Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar from the Twin Cities are putting up a case of beer from the Gopher State – and Johnson and Baldwin are offering a selection of Wisconsin micro-brews and traditional labels. After being sworn in just yesterday, Baldwin says it’s been an exciting week. But quote, “It’s only going to get better when the Packers beat the Vikings, and put an end to this trash-talking from my Minnesota colleagues.” Franken said the Vikes have out-performed all of the experts’ predictions this year, and he thinks they’ll keep doing it tomorrow night at Lambeau Field. Las Vegas has Green Bay as a seven-and-a-half point favorite.