Packers vs. Vikings: Three things I'll be watching for
The Green Bay Packers will host the Minnesota Vikings Saturday night in a wild card round playoff game. The Packers beat the Vikings at Lambeau Field 23-14 in week 13 before falling to the Vikings in Minneapolis 37-34 in week 17. Below are three things I'll be watching for during the game:
Charles Woodson's Return
The future hall of fame defensive back will return to the field after missing the last nine games with a broken collarbone. Woodson's return should provide an immediate lift to a defensive unit that was uninterested in tackling Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in the Packers week 17 loss. What I'll be watching to see is how many snaps Woodson plays after missing considerable time, and where he lines up. Rookie Casey Hayward has proven to be too valuable as a slot cornerback, and deserves to stay on the field. My guess is that Woodson will play deep safety in base packages, but spend most of the time at or near the line of scrimmage.
The BIG 4
For the first time since week 4, the Packers will have their top four wide receivers together on the field. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were medically cleared to play on Friday, and will join Greg Jennings and James Jones in multiple wide receiver sets. What I'll be watching to see is how often Mike McCarthy calls for four or five wide receiver sets. Beyond that, I'll be watching to see how the Vikings try to cover each of the Packers wide receiving threats. It's very simple, the Packers top 4 WR's are far more talented than the Vikings top 4 defensive backs. The spreading of the field, and multiple WR sets could also open up some holes in the running game.
In a late development, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has been declared inactive for tonight's game due to an elbow injury suffered in the regular season finale against the Packers. Backup quarterback Joe Webb will get the start despite not attempting a pass all season long. What I'll be watching to see is how much more aggressive the Packers defense will be in trying to disrupt and confuse the inexperienced Webb. One thing is for certain - Webb is a threat to run at any time, and the Packers must respect his ability in that regard. If Webb passes for over 150 yards, I'd be impressed.