Vikings (10-6) visit Lambeau Field for Saturday night's NFC wild
card, and no place in the NFL has been tougher to play over the last
three years. Green Bay (11-5) has won all but two of its last 28
regular-season home games, and its 22 home wins since the start of
the 2010 season are one better than both New England and Baltimore.
hasn't been quite so fearsome in the postseason lately, with the
Packers losing their last two home playoff games (both to the New
York Giants) and three of their last four.
In fact, all
four of the Packers' losses in home playoff games have come in the
last six played at Lambeau.
advantage, I know statistically it may not be what it used to be,
but to me there's no place better to play than at Lambeau Field. I
love everything about it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
"Definitely we feel it's an advantage to have our crowd behind
us, the surface that we play on. ... It will be a great
Few teams have
better fan bases than the Packers, the only publicly owned team in
professional sports. To be from Wisconsin is to be a Packers fan,
and loyalty has nothing to do with the won-loss record. The entire
state comes to a standstill on Sunday afternoons, and Lambeau has
been sold out since 1960 (the only blackouts in Green Bay have to do
with electricity). Parents put their children on the waiting list
for season tickets when they're born in hopes they'll get them by
their 40th birthday, and Wisconsin kids talk about Aaron, B.J., Clay
and Charles as if they're their best buddies at school.
Miller has some fun outside Lambeau Field before an NFL
football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Tennessee
Titans Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis.
rather be at home, I think anybody would," Clay Matthews said
Wednesday. "I mean, that's what you play for ... (to) make
teams come into your backyard. Especially with us. We like to think
living in this environment, playing in this environment, it plays to
us well. "
behind much of the Green Bay advantage, to say nothing of its
have more snow, and the wind off Lake Michigan makes for some
downright nasty conditions at Soldier Field. But the average
temperature in Green Bay doesn't crack the freezing mark from
December through February, and the thought of the Ice Bowl creeps
into the minds of every opponent when they see a winter game at
Lambeau on the schedule.
kickoff for that 1967 NFL championship was 13 below, with a wind
chill of minus-46. It was so cold the officials' whistles froze, and
one fan died of exposure.
learn to live with it," said Matthews, who endured quite a
shock when he arrived in Green Bay from sunny southern California.
"You can't avoid the elements out here."
game will feel like a heat wave by comparison to the Ice Bowl, with
lows in the mid-teens, a wind chill near zero. And the weather in
Minnesota is equally brutal, though the Vikings play indoors.
your nostrils freeze as you sprint to and from your car is a lot
different than spending 3½ hours in mind-numbing, finger-freezing
cold on a regular basis.
something that you have to be prepared for mentally," said
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, who grew up in Texas and
played at Florida State. "I don't know how well you can prepare
And yet, the
Packers haven't done much with that home-field advantage recently.
It was Atlanta
a Southern team! that gave Green Bay its first home playoff
loss, in the 2002 NFC wild card. Two years later, the Vikings beat
the Packers at Lambeau in their only other playoff matchup.
were more fit for the "Frozen Tundra" in the 2007 NFC
Championship, beating the Packers in overtime in the second-coldest
game at Lambeau Field. Last year, New York knocked the top-seeded
Packers out at home.
Oh, and two
years ago, when Green Bay won the Super Bowl? The Packers did it on
the road, playing the entire postseason away from Lambeau Field.
opposed to playing here. Obviously with our crowd and our fans,
that's what we want as a team," Greg Jennings said. "But
going on the road, being isolated away from everyone, I think the
focus level and the sense of urgency is just a little tad higher.
Because you're dependent on your teammate. You travel, you're in a
hotel, you're all together. It's you guys against everyone else
outside of that hotel. So it's a little different."
the same Packers that lost those other postseason games at Lambeau,
either. Mike Sherman was coaching the Packers when they lost to
Atlanta and Minnesota. That first loss to the Giants was Brett
Favre's last game as a Packer.
hasn't worked out for us lately," Jennings said. "But it's
a different year."
Jordy Nelson (knee) practiced Wednesday and said he plans to play
against the Vikings. ... DE Jerel Worthy will not play the rest of
the season after injuring his knee last Sunday in Minnesota. ... WR
Jarrett Boykin (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday, but McCarthy said
the injury isn't as bad as initially feared.
Pro32 comments about Packers
Comments on the Green Bay Packers by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in
(ESPN, 4) Reward for going 9-2 down the stretch facing Adrian
Peterson three times in six games.
(Sporting News, 5) Playing at Lambeau will help them in a
rematch against Vikings.
Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 6)
(CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 4) Getting Woodson back huge
especially for their run defense this weekend vs. Adrian Peterson.
(Newsday, 6) Terrifically entertaining game against Minnesota,
even if the Packers lost. It'll all be forgotten if Green Bay wins
the rematch in the wild card round.
(Dallas Morning News, 6) Aaron Rodgers won his second
consecutive NFL passing title, completing 67.2 percent of his passes
with 39 touchdowns and only eight interceptions for an efficiency
rating of 108.0.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com,
6) Good news: The Packers draw Minnesota for the second time in
a week, and they get them at Lambeau Field where they beat the
Vikings earlier this year and where won their 17 of their last 19,
including the playoffs. Bad news: They're 2-4 in their last six
playoff games at home.
(Tampa Tribune, 6) Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood is dangerous this
time of the year.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM
NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 6) They lost to the Vikings in Week 16,
but get them at home in wild card weekend. The Packers need to shore
up their run defense and pass protection.
(Fox Sports, 3) I know they just lost to Minnesota, but at this
time of the year ride the best QBs and Aaron Rodgers is a great one.
That defense will have to show more for the Pack to have true
staying power in the playoffs.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com,
6) If the Packers can't figure out how to stop Minnesota running
back Adrian Peterson they could be one-and-done in the playoffs.
(Chicago Tribune, 2) Despite the fact they lost Sunday, Aaron
Rodgers is playing great football. And that's a very good sign for
Packers to end alcohol sales early for Minn.
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Green Bay Packers plan to cut off alcohol
sales early for Saturday night's playoff game against the Minnesota
Vikings at Lambeau Field.
The Packers say alcohol sales that night will be cut off at the
beginning of the third quarter. Normally, alcohol is sold through
the end of the third quarter.
Team officials also promise police and security workers will be
extra vigilant during the game between the two interstate rivals.
After the Packers' game against the Vikings last month, a Minnesota
man was charged with disorderly conduct during a post-game fight in
a parking lot near the stadium.
WLUK-TV reports the Packers have created a fan code of conduct to
guide behavior at the stadium.
NFL Preview: Vikings at Packers
MINNESOTA (10-6) At GREEN BAY (11-5)
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
OPENING LINE Packers by 8
RECORD VS. SPREAD Minnesota 9-7; Green Bay 9-7
SERIES RECORD Packers lead 54-49-1
AP PRO32 RANKING Packers No. 6; Vikings No. 10
LAST MEETING Vikings beat Packers 37-34, Dec. 30
LAST WEEK Vikings beat Packers 37-34
VIKINGS OFFENSE OVERALL (20), RUSH (2), PASS (31)
VIKINGS DEFENSE OVERALL (16), RUSH (11), PASS (24)
PACKERS OFFENSE OVERALL (13), RUSH (20), PASS (9)
PACKERS DEFENSE OVERALL (11), RUSH (17), PASS (11)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES First wild-card rematch of regular-season
finale since 2009, when three of four wild cards, including Green
Bay's loss to Arizona, were do-overs. ... Packers are 1-1 when
facing same team in last week of regular-season and following week
in playoffs. They beat Lions in 1993 after losing regular-season
finale, and lost to Arizona after winning in last week of regular
season in '09. ... NFC North rival Packers and Vikings have met once
in postseason, a 31-17 Minnesota victory at Lambeau Field in 2004
NFC wild card. ... Including that loss to Vikings, Packers have
dropped four of last six postseason games at home. ... Minnesota's
victory in regular-season finale snapped five-game losing streak to
Green Bay. After losing in Green Bay on Dec. 2, Minnesota won its
last four. ... Packers are NFC North champions and No. 3 seed in
conference, while Minnesota is sixth seed, securing wild-card spot
with victory over Green Bay in Minneapolis last weekend. ... Sixteen
of last 21 regular-season games between these NFC North rivals have
been decided by seven points or less. ... Packers WR Donald Driver
and Minnesota DT Kevin Williams, DB Antoine Winfield and C Cullen
Loeffler are only players left from 2004 wild-card meeting. ...
Packers are 4-1 against division opponents in playoffs. ... Packers
were 7-1 at Lambeau Field this season, while Vikings were 3-5 on
road. ... Vikings are 6-15 in road playoff games. ... Vikings have
not played a "cold-weather" game outdoors since Dec. 28, 2010, when
the temperature was 32 degrees for 24-14 victory over Eagles. Since
2000, Minnesota is 2-6 outdoors when it's 32 or below. Forecast for
Saturday night calls for temperatures in mid-teens, with wind chill
around zero. ... Adrian Peterson finished with 2,097 yards rushing,
8 shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season NFL record. ... Peterson has
rushed for more yards against Packers (1,442) than any opponent. ...
After throwing 12 interceptions in first 13 games, Minnesota QB
Christian Ponder has gone last three without a pick. ... Packers
have made playoffs in each of last four seasons and in five of last
six, most by any NFC team. ... Aaron Rodgers has thrown 24 TDs and
four INTs in 10 career starts vs. Vikings. ... With Jordy Nelson
expecting to play, Packers would have all four top receivers for,
essentially, first time since Sept. 30. Nelson, Greg Jennings, James
Jones and Randall Cobb all appeared in Dec. 2 game against Vikings,
but Nelson left after injuring hamstring on Green Bay's second
drive. ... Rodgers has NFL-best 105.5 quarterback rating in
postseason. ... Vikings DE Jared Allen has more sacks of Rodgers
than any other quarterback. Of his career 117 sacks, 15 1/2 are of
Rodgers, including his single-game high of 4 1/2 on Oct. 5, 2009.
... Vikings have sacked Rodgers seven times in their first two
meetings this year, including career-high three by DE Everson
Griffen last Sunday. ... Jones first Packer to lead NFL in TD
receptions (14) since Sterling Sharpe (18) in 1994. ... Green Bay's
16 giveaways tied for second lowest in NFL. ... Packers DB Charles
Woodson will play for first time since breaking right collarbone
Oct. 21. ... Peterson's 34 carries against Green Bay in
regular-season finale were most in NFL this year. ...... Packers RB
DuJuan Harris had his best game since being elevated from practice
squad in season finale against Vikings, rushing for 70 yards on 14
GREEN BAY, Wis.
(AP) Aaron Rodgers is putting up MVP-worthy numbers again,
throwing for more touchdowns than anyone in the NFL and ranking
near the top in completions and yards passing.
Imagine if he'd
had all of his favorite toys for the whole year.
With Randall Cobb
back from a sprained ankle and Jordy Nelson planning to play in
Saturday night's NFC wild-card game against Minnesota, the Green
Bay Packers finally will have all four top receivers for the first
time in, essentially, three months.
"It makes us
very dangerous," Greg Jennings said Thursday. "It's
pretty obvious when we have all four guys healthy, the amount of
big plays that we can accumulate goes up. Aaron has a lot more
question Rodgers is a special quarterback, one of the league's
finest, and he'd put up impressive numbers if he had only one or
two guys to throw to. But he has four count 'em, four
receivers who could be No. 1s on many other teams.
think so," Nelson said when asked if any other team is as
loaded at receiver as the Packers. "I don't think you can go
four and five deep like we can."
1,000-yard seasons from 2008-10, and came up just short (949) last
year despite missing three games. Nelson has a career average of
15.1 yards per catch, and joined Jennings in the 1,000-yard club
last year. James Jones led the NFL with 14 TD catches this year,
and matched a Packers record with two scores in three straight
games. Cobb is the newest of the bunch, and all the second-year
receiver has done is lead the team in catches (80) and yards
Add in big tight
end Jermichael Finley and you can see why defensive coordinators
have nightmares about facing the Packers.
"You can go
to any one of them and get a big play, so it makes it more
difficult for defenses to defend," Green Bay offensive
coordinator Tom Clements said. "If (opponents) only have one
guy or two guys that they have to defend against, they can
structure their defenses and set it up in certain ways to take
those guys away. But if you have four out there, and sometimes
even five, it makes it more difficult.
"So if it's
more difficult for them, it's advantageous for us."
But injuries have
kept the Packers (11-5) from making full use of that advantage.
The Big Four have played less than three full games together this
year, and you have to go all the way back to the Sept. 24 game in
Seattle for when they were last all at full strength. (Yes, they
were all available for the Dec. 2 game against the Vikings, but
Nelson was gone after the second series with a hamstring injury.)
Jennings was hurt
in the season opener, and wound up missing eight of the first 11
games with a torn muscle in his abdomen. Nelson was out for four
games with a hamstring injury. And Cobb, who's also been Green
Bay's primary kick returner, was sidelined last week with a
Only Jones made
it through the entire season unscathed.
"It's been a
while," Nelson agreed. "Hopefully we can go out and
perform well, make a lot of plays and play a few games together.
That's what you want. You want to be at full strength going into
the playoffs, and I think we're as healthy as we can be."
To get an idea
just how potent the Packers could be, look at their last three
games, when only one of the Big Four was on the sidelines. Rodgers
has thrown for 998 yards and 10 touchdowns. Cobb, Jones and
Jennings have had 100-yard games, and each game has had three
receivers with five or more catches. Green Bay has put up 110
points, including hanging a season-high 55 on Tennessee.
Yes, the Packers
lost at Minnesota on Sunday. But the offense found another gear
after an uncharacteristically slow start on the first three
drives, outgaining and outscoring the Vikings over the final 40
minutes. Jennings had his best showing since his return with 120
yards and two touchdowns on eight catches, while Nelson averaged a
whopping 29 yards on his three catches.
catches gave him 61 for the year, a Packers record for a tight
definitely got it going," Jennings said. "Felt good with
what we were seeing, ARod was delivering the ball on the point and
guys were making plays all across the field. Are there some things
we could have done better as a whole? Absolutely. But we got
another shot at it. We've got a chance to make it right this
And they'll be
doing it at full strength.
Cobb was held out
last weekend as something of a precaution, but he's practiced all
week. Nelson was a question mark after he banged up his knee
against the Vikings. But he was a full participant in practice
Thursday and said "no, none whatsoever" when asked if
there was any question he'd play.
hoping that, come this time, everyone would be together and ready
to go and we are," Nelson said. "And we look forward to
Notes: Coach Mike
McCarthy said there won't be a rep count on Charles Woodson, who
will be playing his first game since breaking his collarbone Oct.
21. "We're going to let him play and communicate on the
sidelines and make sure he's OK," McCarthy said. "He's
been really pushing the conditioning really the last five or six
weeks and he has been practicing the last four weeks. It's just
that transition to the games." ... CB Tramon Williams missed
Thursday's practice with the flu.