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The Green Bay Packers easily took care of business at Lambeau Field against the visiting Vikings, who were without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Pack moved to 3-2 and atop the NFC North standings, while Minnesota dropped to 2-3.
The Packers have knocked off divisional foes each of the past two weeks, and are beginning to look like the preseason favorites we expected them to be. The Vikings, on the other hand, looked lost with former first-round pick and current third-string quarterback Christian Ponder making the start.
Here were five takeaways from the Packers’ 42-10 win (and Vikings loss) on Thursday night:
Packers finding their stride
Since halftime of Week 4’s game against the Chicago Bears, the Packers have been on a 59-10 run. In other words, they’re finally beginning to click.
Aaron Rodgers was especially efficient, completing 12-of-17 passes for 156 yards for three touchdowns, earning a quarterback rating of 138.7. As an offense, the running game produced 156 yards and a 5.6 yard per carry average — against a Mike Zimmer-coached defense — while eight different receivers hauled in passes.
Defensively, Julius Peppers has rounded into form over the past few weeks, evident by his half-sack and a pick-six early in the contest. Mike Daniels, Nick Perry and Letroy Guion combined for 5.0 sacks, and as a unit hit Ponder 16 times.
They remain the team to beat in the NFC North until further notice. This was a message to the rest of the division.
Christian Ponder is seriously a bust
Aside from Cam Newton at No. 1 overall, the 2011 draft’s quarterback class is arguably the worst in recent memory. Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Ponder, who drew the start Thursday night, headline the disappointments.
Ponder was less than serviceable, completing half of his 44 pass attempts for 222 yards and a 5.0 completion average. He threw a pair of picks, was sacked six times, and earned a whopping Total QBR of 4.9.
A former first-round pick should at least be a decent backup, and as a third-stringer behind Matt Cassel and Bridgewater, Ponder was unable to do that. The Vikings didn’t cut Ponder solely because there were no financial motivations to do so, but now they’d be better off looking on the street for a third-string/emergency quarterback.
Sophomore slump is over
The reining NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Eddie Lacy, earned a spot in the XN Sports 5 Biggest NFL Disappointments at the quarter-pole in the season. Thanks to some tough running and making some defenders miss in space, Lacy racked up 105 yards on 13 carries on Thursday night, finding the end zone twice in the Packers’ rout of their NFC South rival.
Lacy was quiet in his first four games, which included the Seahawks and Jets, two of the superior run defenses in the NFL. Lacy started to turn a corner last week against Chicago and really found a rhythm against even a pretty decent Vikings front.
It’s a positive sign to come both for Lacy and the Packers offense. Their ability to be balanced will be especially crucial down the stretch and into the postseason.
Let’s not worry too much about Minnesota
To see a Zimmer defense play this horrible, sure, there’s cause for concern. But last week they were able to limit the potent Falcons offense; this time their offensive instability forced them to be on the field longer than anticipated.
As for the offense, you cannot read into what Ponder was able to do. Bridgewater is now their quarterback, and even a rookie with 1.5 games of action is ahead of Ponder on the quarterback scale. The running game still looks serviceable, so long that Matt Asiata can hold onto the football and Jerick McKinnon gets chances to make plays in space. Kyle Rudolph should return soon, too.
Patterson wants the ball
The Vikings’ best offensive weapon continues to be invisible. Cordarrelle Patterson left Thursday’s contest early due to a hip injury, but the wide receiver claims he’s fine and that he’s desperate to get more involved in the offense.
Patterson also made the Biggest NFL Disappointments list because he has so much talent and turned heads in the Week 1 win over the Rams, but has been a non-factor since. You would think the loss of Adrian Peterson would allow Vikings coaches to think of ways to get Patterson more involved offensively, but no.
The Vikings need to find ways to get Patterson involved. It’ll help when Bridgewater returns, but Patterson can also be used in the running game on a quick bubble screens so he can make plays. So far, it’s just a waste of valuable talent.
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