The NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with the wild card round on Saturday and Sunday. The NFC side of things features the Vikings and Packers on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. on NBC, and the Seahawks and Redskins on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on FOX. If the Packers beat the Vikings, the 49ers will host the Packers a week from Saturday. If the Vikings beat the Packers, the 49ers will host the winner of Seahawks-Redskins.
While the Vikings did show they can beat the Packers this past weekend, I think this game ends up with the Packers winning fairly easily. It is incredibly tough to bet against Adrian Peterson, but I just see a sizable let-down this week. They went down to the wire in a game in which they were at home, playing for a playoff spot, and we saw a masterful effort from Adrian Peterson, and a strong effort from Christian Ponder. Could we see it again? Sure. Will we? I doubt it.
As we work towards getting an opponent in mind, I thought I'd take a look at each injury report following their first day of practice. We'll have some previews for this weekend's matchups tomorrow, but for now, injury reports are valuable for our own divisional round look.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
DNP: LB Tyrone McKenzie (shoulder), RB Adrian Peterson (abdomen), CB Antoine Winfield (hand)
Limited participation: QB Christian Ponder (right elbow), DE Brian Robison (shoulder), S Harrison Smith (knee)
Full participation: DE Jared Allen (shoulder), CB A.J. Jefferson (ankle), DE George Johnson (quadricep), P Chris Kluwe (left knee), T Phil Loadholt (knee)
Green Bay Packers
Out (definitely will not play): DE Jerel Worthy (knee)
DNP: WR Jarrett Boykin (ankle)
Limited participation: WR Randall Cobb (ankle), TE Jermichael Finley (quadricep), CB Davon House (hip), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), RB James Starks (knee)
Full participation: RB Alex Green (knee), S Charles Woodson (collarbone)
The most noteworthy injuries for the Packers are defensive end Jerel Worthy and wide receiver Randall Cobb. Worthy injured his knee against the Vikings last week, and has been ruled out for the playoffs. Worthy was a second round pick this past year, and split playing time with C.J. Wilson and Mike Daniels. According to Acme Packing Company, the Packers dealt with numerous minor injuries on their defensive line, leading to multiple players rotating in and out each week. Worthy got some time as the starting end in the Packers 3-4 package, and starting tackle in their 2-linemen nickel.
Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson were all listed as limited participants in practice today. Finley is coming off a strong Week 17 performance against the Vikings, capping off a solid December after struggling much of the season. He should be good to go. Nelson also played this past Sunday, and while he has been banged up much of the year, he is expected to play on Sunday.
Randall Cobb sat out Week 17 with ankle and knee issues. He sat last Wednesday and Thursday before getting limited work in on Friday and sitting on Sunday. He has been a huge part of their offense this season, picking up work as receivers and running backs were lost to injury. He should play on Saturday, but it will be worth tracking to see if he is limited by the injuries.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins
Limited participation: RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
DNP: QB Kirk Cousins (illness), LB London Fletcher (ankle), CB Domonique Johnson (knee), G Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle)
Limited participation: S DeJon Gomes (knee)
Full participation: LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder), DE Stephen Bowen (biceps), WR Pierre Garcon (foot), QB Robert Griffin (knee), CB DeAngelo Hall (elbow), LB Ryan Kerrigan (ankle), C Will Montgomery (knee), WR Josh Morgan (hand, foot), S Jordan Pugh (ankle), P Saverio Rocca (right knee), S Madieu Williams (elbow)
If the Vikings somehow pull it out against the Packers, the 49ers would host either the Seahawks or the Redskins. The Seahawks are early favorites, opening at -1 and since moving to -3. Even though it's a road game, there are few teams hotter than the Seahawks. The Redskins actually have a longer winning streak, having won seven straight to get into the playoffs, but the Seahawks are getting a lot of love early.
This game features teams that are mostly healthy, but the Redskins face a few issues. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger sprained his ankle in the season finale, and while he hopes it gets better, he did not sound entirely optimistic. London Fletcher sat out Wednesday's practice as well, but that is likely a veterans' preference.
The big question in recent weeks has been about Robert Griffin III's knee. RGIII injured his LCL a few weeks back, and while Mike Shanahan claims Griffin is 100%, there is always some concern with the knee. It will be interesting to see how he stands up to the Seahawks pass rush on Sunday.