GREEN BAY—At this time a year ago, the Vikings were beginning to make a move on a playoff berth. The Vikings team that'll play in Lambeau Field this Sunday has been reduced to spoiler status.
"This is an NFC North opponent, our rival. It's a huge game for us, our most important game of the season, number one, because it's the next game on our schedule, but also because of who the opponent is. It's a chance for us to get a win in our division, so it would mean a lot to our team and our fans," Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier told Packers media on Wednesday.
Prospects were bright for Frazier's team when the season began. The Vikings had used the Percy Harvin trade to make a strong move in the draft. They had the best running back in the game and hopes were that quarterback Christian Ponder would come into his own in his third season as a pro.
That's what hasn't happened and uncertainty at quarterback, which has resulted in three starters this season and a glitzy midseason acquisition, has spoiled what was supposed to be a season in which the Vikings would challenge the Packers for the division crown.
"It's been frustrating. That position is so important to your football team, not just your offense but your whole team. The fact that we've struggled throughout the season at that position has been tough. We get a chance this week to get some stability and get some good play," Frazier said.
Frazier told reporters in Minnesota on Wednesday that Ponder would start on Sunday against the Packers.
"I would say any time you're not really consistent at the quarterback position, it impacts the entire team, not just me," running back Adrian Peterson said. "The run plays off the pass and vice versa. So, if you're not really passing the ball that good, then teams can really focus on the run, especially if you're a run team first, so it makes it difficult when the quarterback play is not up to par."
Peterson said the Packers, currently on a three-game losing streak since losing Aaron Rodgers to injury, are a perfect example of how the quarterback position impacts the whole team.
"That's a perfect example to show you how much. Lacy came in and helped that running game tremendously, and it shows with Aaron Rodgers not back there how big of a difference he makes and what he means to that offense, so that situation right there is a perfect one to look at," Peterson said.
Peterson has been battling a groin strain but he gave reason to believe he'll be ready to play on Sunday.
"I'm feeling pretty good. I'm taking it one day at a time, taking the necessary reps and getting the treatment and getting the things I need to do to be ready to roll on Sunday," he said.
Will the Vikings be ready to roll? At 2-8, motivation can be a problem on a cold day late in the season.
"The record is not where we want it to be, but guys are still sticking together," Peterson said.
A season filled with promise when training camp began, has been reduced to an attempt to try to wreck the Packers' season, which the Vikings could do with a win on Sunday.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. This was a game many thought would be for the division lead. One team is out of contention and the other is desperate for a win that would keep it in contention. Additional coverage - Nov. 20