Will this be the first competitive Thursday Night Football game of the 2014 season? Two 2-2 division rivals squaring off in one of football’s greatest cathedrals for all the world to see? Sounds pretty good right?

In so many words, this report confirming Teddy Bridgewater’s status as out indicates it won’t be.

It’s very simple. Had Teddy Bridgewater been able to play on his sprained ankle, the Vikings would have had a chance. With Christian Ponder, Aaron Rodgers will have Packers fans nice and relaxed by the third quarter.

It’s not that the Vikings won’t be somewhat competitive. I even like the strides made by rookie runner Jerick McKinnon, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Greg Jennings provide plenty of speed to attack a mediocre Packers defense.

That said, the presence of Ponder severely reduces the Vikings ability to stretch the field with his lack of arm.strength.

The Vikings will need to be prepared for a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy. Partially in effort to protect his franchise quarterback, Mike McCarthy has expressed the need for more balance on offense, and thus distribute more touches to the second-year running back.

Keep an eye on this game’s two premiere pass-rushers — Green Bay’s injury-hampered Clay Matthews and Minnesota’s rising rookie Anthony Barr. Even wounded by groin issues, Matthews must be accounted for. Add in the indecisive Ponder into the equation and you’re looking at some serous potential for a strip sack or two.

With Barr, the rookie has been active of late, recording a sack in each of his last two contests to go along with 11 tackles. With his speed and size, expect Barr to be active in chasing down ball carriers tonight, especially if the forecast of rain forces Green Bay to run more than usual. If Barr can get home against a suspect offensive line he has the potential to force a few turnovers of his own.

Prediction:

The Packers have most of the match up edges in this one, especially with Rodgers on his game and Jordy Nelson at his disposal. If rain becomes an issue in this one and the game breaks down into a field goal contest then Minnesota has a fighter’s chance with the big leg of Blair Walsh. Otherwise it seems to much of a task for a mediocre backup quarterback and an average defense to contain one of the game.

Packers 24 Vikings 13

Tim

Tim Mullhaupt (@TimakaHines) is the editor of The Buckets Blog.