Friday, January 4, 2013
Vikings-Packers III: Rodgers' dominance
By Kevin Seifert
A few of you have suggested I've been a bit negative toward the Green Bay Packers' chances of winning Saturday night's wild-card playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. For me, this week has been about presenting some undeniable facts in context, from the Packers' recent playoff struggles at Lambeau Field to their inability to slow down Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson during the regular season.
Of course, I've had this post in my back pocket all along. The Packers' best and most obvious advantage is the career-long dominance of quarterback Aaron Rodgers against the Vikings. We noted some of his numbers against them last week, and Rodgers followed up with a 365-yard, four-touchdown performance in the Vikings' 37-34 victory.
In 10 career starts against the Vikings, whether at Lambeau or the Metrodome, Rodgers has a 116.4 passer rating. He's completed 70.6 percent of his passes and averaged 282.3 yards per game while throwing 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
As the chart shows, Rodgers' ratio of six touchdowns for every interception against the Vikings ranks as the second-best by a quarterback against one opponent -- minimum 15 touchdown passes -- in NFL history. In other words, it's exceedingly rare for a quarterback to be so productive and efficient over time against a regular opponent.
To be fair, the Vikings have sacked Rodgers 35 times in those games and have won four of the 10 starts despite his passing brilliance against them. But if you're the Packers, and you know Rodgers will have his full complement of wide receivers -- Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones -- for the first time in three months, you realize you have a sizable advantage in this aspect of the matchup.
Here is just one recent example of how Rodgers has found ways to slice up the Vikings' pass defense. Last Sunday, veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield departed the game because of pain in his broken hand. That shuffled the Vikings' nickel defense and required kick returner Marcus Sherels to play 34 snaps in the second half.
Rodgers targeted Sherels on 10 of the 21 passes he threw after halftime, according to Pro Football Focus, and completed nine of them for 162 yards. Winfield has pledged to play Saturday night, but history tells us we can count on Rodgers finding the weak spot in the Vikings' defense at some point.