The Minnesota Vikings have already clinched a playoff berth, but after throttling the Giants this past Sunday – and after watching the Cardinals throttle the Packers in Arizona – the Vikings aren’t satisfied. At 10-5, they’re not thinking Wild Card. They’re thinking division title.
Well, with a win over the Packers (10-5) at Lambeau Field this Sunday, they can do just that.
“I think for us, it’s got to be really just work as usual,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We’ve got to stop their run game. We can’t allow them to establish the run, because if we do, that opens up the whole gamut of plays that they have. That’s never good. So for us, I think when we’ve struggled against them, they’ve been able to establish a run game. So that’s priority one. And then No. 2 is if we’re able to stop the run game and get them in situations where they need to pass the ball, then we have to make sure we keep Aaron Rodgers in the pocket. He’s been able to show that when he’s outside to his right in the pocket, he makes a lot of things happen. And so, for us, it’s going to be very key for us to keep him in the pocket but make sure we’re getting around his feet and making him antsy and not allowing him to look downfield for those targets.”
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they haven’t had much success in limiting Rodgers in recent years. In fact, Minnesota is 1-10-1 in its last 12 games against Green Bay.
“For some reason, when we play Green Bay, they seem to bring their A-game,” Robison said. “They’ve showed it over the last four or five years. So for us, it’s going to be about making sure all 11 guys are where they need to be and making sure that we’re (on top of our assignments). If we do that, we’ve shown we can play with anybody in this league.”
Adrian Peterson, of course, leads the NFL in rushing with 1,418 yards – he has 64 more yards and 310 more yards than Doug Martin and Todd Gurley, who rank second and third, respectively – but Teddy Bridgewater has been clutch in December. He has seven touchdowns (six pass, one rush) to just one interception in his last three games.
“You saw it last year and you’re seeing it again this year,” Robison said. “As the season goes on, he seems to gain more and more confidence. He starts playing much better. I think in the month of December the last two years he’s been really good. So I think for him as the year goes on, he gains more and more confidence. And I think with that, it’s infectious. Our whole offense starts gaining confidence. Our wide receivers are stepping up in the month of December with (Stefon) Diggs and Mike Wallace, and anytime we can establish the run, we’ve shown that we can (score points). But I think Teddy is one of those guys who doesn’t get as much credit as I think he deserves. He’s one of those guys who, as it goes on, he seems to gain more and more confidence.
The Vikings have scored 87 points over their last two games –their highest two-game total since 1998.
“When you can put up points the way that they’ve put up points and you know you have a defense playing like we’re playing, it gives a quarterback so much confidence,” Robison said. “I think moving forward, I’m hoping he’s just going to keep getting better and better.”