The 2012 playoffs are finally here, with the 12 surviving teams -- the best of the best in the NFL -- set to fight it out for the Super Bowl XLVII title. The action kicks off this weekend with the wild-card round. To get you ready, let's take a closer look at all four games.
These teams don't just know each other well as NFC North foes -- they just got done playing each other in Week 17. The Vikings picked up a split of the season series by taking a must-win game last Sunday, punching their ticket to the postseason. Minnesota grinded out the victory in a game that contradicted the idea that it's a "quarterback's league." Aaron Rodgers threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns -- and lost.
Player to watch
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: Let's keep this one simple: If Peterson doesn't go off, Minnesota probably doesn't have much of a chance. The good news for the Vikings is that's precisely what he did in the team's two December games against Green Bay, compiling 409 yards on 55 carries.
Antoine Winfield, CB, Vikings: You can expect the veteran corner to gut it out with a broken hand, which he aggravated in last week's game. And Minnesota needs him to. Rodgers exploited the Vikings' lack of depth at corner last week when Winfield came out, going after Marcus Sherels. You had better believe Rodgers will do it again, should Winfield struggle with the injury and have to sit at all.
Matchup to watch
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Packers LT Marshall Newhouse vs. Vikings DE Jared Allen: If there's a common thread among the teams that have slowed Rodgers and Co. over the past few years, it's that they're hitting the quarterback. That makes this matchup pretty important. Allen recorded three of his 12 sacks this year against Green Bay; he'll need to be on his game if the Vikings' defense is going to have a shot at keeping up.
Did you know?
This game marks the seventh time in NFL history that two teams will face each other three times in a six-week span, with the final game a postseason matchup. The last time this scheduling quirk happened was in 2000, when there were two instances: St. Louis Rams vs. New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins. In both cases, the team that won the first meeting of the season also won the postseason showdown (Saints, Dolphins). The Packers won this season's first meeting with the Vikings, 23-14, in Week 13.
This game won't be as high-scoring as many expect, mainly because Minnesota will be able to slow down the pace of the game with Peterson moving the chains. But in the end, Rodgers and the Pack have too much firepower; they look primed for a run at New Orleans.
Green Bay Packers 30, Minnesota Vikings 21
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