Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On Jason Babin and Looking Ahead To The Vikings

The Green Bay Packers have to take a hard look at themselves this week because they didn't show up against the Giants, but things were almost as bad for the Vikings in Chicago. While the Packers need to focus on their pass protection and pass rush, the Vikings have now lost 3 of their last 4 and were blown out early by the Bears.

First on the Packers' pass rush: could the recently released Eagles DE Jason Babin provide any help? While Football Outsiders acknowledges he's not a scheme fit for the Packers (because he can't drop back into coverage or play the run like they would need him to do at outside LB) he would be a great fit for the Bears and/or Vikings. He could become a problem for the Packers as soon as next week if the Vikings acquired him to terrorize their tackles. I think the Saints should take a chance on Babin because their window to win is now, they're still in the playoff picture, and they really need a pass rush.

The Vikings' passing game was a wreck. The combination of facing a dominant Bears' defense, the absence of WR Percy Harvin, and the loss of TE Kyle Rudolph mid-game due to a concussion led to a 22 for 43, 159 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT performance from QB Christian Ponder. I don't think Ponder will develop into anything more than a decent backup QB, but he'll do better next week against the Packers if Harvin (he hasn't yet practiced since spraining his ankle on Nov. 4) and Rudolph (he still has to clear the league's concussion protocol) can return. However, both Harvin and Rudolph played in their game last season at Lambeau and Ponder had an awful QB rating of 52.3 against a much weaker 2011 Packers' secondary.

The Packers' run defense was in shambles against the Giants and RB Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the league. Last season's meeting between the two teams at Lambeau was a lopsided 45-7 victory by the Packers, and they did a good job of holding RB Adrian Peterson to 51 yards on 14 carries. But stopping Peterson isn't necessarily the key to the game. He's had some monster games against the Packers in recent years (175 yards in 2011, 131 yards in 2010) but the Vikings didn't win either one. In 2009, the Packers held Peterson to 55 yards and 97 yards in two games but the Packers still lost them both. Arguably, it's more important to shut down the Vikings' passing game, so I expect to see the Packers primarily in their nickel package next Sunday.

Both teams are looking to bounce back after getting blown out last week. Hopefully the Giants game was just an aberration and a return to Lambeau will get the Packers back on track.

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