The Vikings have faced a few critical games on their way to a 6-5 record. To get there, they have had to rebound after tough losses and steal a win most didn't expect. That's the situation they face against Green Bay.
One of the primary differences that the 2012 Vikings have had that the 2011 Vikings didn't was the ability to stop the bleeding when things got bad. When the Vikings lost to Indianapolis early in the season, it could have been the start of something bad. They bounced back with a win against a 2011 playoff team (San Francisco) that nobody expected them to beat.
When they lost two straight games to Tampa Bay and Seattle – losses that could bite them in the wild card chase – they came back with a win over a 2011 playoff team (Detroit) that many skeptics thought they wouldn't be able to pull off. They did.
In both instances, it could be argued that the Vikings' 2012 season was on the line. In the first instance, the Vikings would have started in a hole that they would have had difficulty pulling themselves out of. In both 2010 and 2011, the Vikings struggled in September and weren't relevant the rest of the season.
Against Detroit in November, the Vikings faced a similar situation. Detroit's playoff aspirations were pinned on beating the Vikings if the Lions had any hope of repeating as a playoff team. The Vikings found a way to get the job done.
They face a strikingly similar situation today at Lambeau Field when they face the Green Bay Packers
. Both teams are coming off humbling defeats – the Vikings losing 28-10 to the Bears and the Packers returning to action after a 38-10 throttling by the New York Giants
. Both teams need a win to keep their playoff dreams alive – the Packers looking to win the NFC North and the Vikings to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt.
In today's game, one of those two teams will get their 2012 season back on track. It's cliché to call a game a "must-win" game, because coaches and players view just about every game as a must-win type. But today's game has all of the earmarks of a must-win game. With a win, the Vikings are 7-5 and back to controlling their own destiny to make the playoffs. With a loss, the Vikings drop to 6-6 and will be reduced to the ranks of the "still alive" category of playoff contenders.
The last two times that the Vikings' 2012 season hung in the balance, they came up with the answer. They're facing it again and are hoping another big upset is in the making.
VIKINGS-PACKERS BY THE NUMBERS
The Packers have the 18th-ranked offense (23rd rushing, 14th passing). The Vikings have the 22nd ranked offense (3rd rushing, 30th passing).
The Packers are averaging 343 yards a game (101 rushing, 242 passing). The Vikings are averaging 333 yards a game (147 rushing, 186 passing).
The Packers are eighth in third-down efficiency, converting of 42.1 percent of their opportunities (61 of 145). The Vikings are 25th at 34.3 percent (49 of 143).
The Packers are third in the league in red zone scoring percentage, scoring touchdowns on 63.3 percent of their chances. The Vikings are 20th at 50 percent.
The Vikings are 24th in red zone defense, allowing 59 percent of opponent red zone trips to finish in touchdowns. The Packers are even worse at 62.5 percent, which ranks 28th in the league.
The Packers have allowed just 36 points in the first quarter of games this year – 19 points in the first 10 games of the season and 17 last week against the Giants.
Aaron Rodgers is 12th in the league in passing yards (2,855), but leads the NFL in passer rating at 105.6. Christian Ponder is 24th in yardage (2,186) and has a passer of rating of 82.0.
Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with 1,236 rushing yards – almost 200 yards more than any other running back in the league.
Green Bay doesn't have a runner with 100 attempts this season.
Despite missing the last two games, Percy Harvin is still 12th in the league in receptions with 62. Randall Cobb is 16th with 58 receptions, one of three Packers with more than 40 receptions this season.
Blair Walsh is sixth in the league in scoring with 92 points. Mason Crosby of the Packers is 28th with 67 points.
Chad Greenway is second in the league in tackles with 107, trailing Jerod Mayo of the Patriots by five entering play this week.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.