Game of the Week

Posted by Posted by Rich Brown On 1:59 PM

Game of the Week – Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers

It would be easy to say that the only reason to focus on this match-up is due to a certain quarterback making a certain return to a certain Wisconsin city. But, with a slate of games that isn’t exactly overwhelming, this NFC North contest is the cream of the crop. The 6-1 Vikings travel to their rivals’ revered Lambeau Field, with the home team sporting a 4-2 record. Minnesota rattled off six straight victories to open the season, before finally dropping a thrilling 27-17 contest to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, the Pack defeated Cleveland, 31-3, for a second consecutive win.
This is not the first meeting of the two teams, as they took the field in Minneapolis for a Monday night contest in Week 4. Neither team could get their run game going in that battle, with Adrian Peterson racking up a paltry (by his standards) 55 yards for the Vikes. Instead, it was the teams’ passing attacks that were needed, and the Minnesota air power proved superior, with the aforementioned Brett Favre throwing for three touchdowns. Combining that with eight sacks, including 4.5 from Jared Allen, the Vikings managed to secure a 30-23 victory. Aaron Rodgers put up great numbers in a losing effort, throwing for 384 yards and two scores. The defense just never seemed to be able to make a big stop when it was needed.
The biggest reason for the large sack total in that game for Minnesota happened to be, in large part, due to the decimation of the Packers’ offensive line. Injuries plagued the unit to no end in the early part of the season, and this all came to a head when they were destroyed by Jared Allen and company in that Week 4 game. The Green Bay offensive line is much healthier this time around, which may be enough to give Ryan Grant more running lanes and give Aaron Rodgers more time to throw.

A big factor in this match-up will be the offensive play-calling of the Minnesota Vikings. Last week against Pittsburgh, there was a nearly 5-to-1 disparity between passing plays and running plays. With the best running back in the NFL, Adrian Peterson, at Brad Childress’ disposal against their rivals, the play-calling has to be more balanced. Peterson is far too talented for any less than 20 rushes against the Packers. If he doesn’t get that many, you can forget about a Minnesota sweep in the season series.
Impact Player: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

In a game like this one, where Green Bay thrives on ball control, using Ryan Grant’s running to set up Aaron Rodgers’ passing game, Jared Allen will once again be crucial to decide how successful Green Bay is offensively. If he can wreak havoc on the Packers’ offensive line, that will force more protection to slide towards that side. This changes the way that plays can be called, changes field position, and could potentially wreck any plans that Mike McCarthy has coming into the game.

Impact Stat: Minnesota YPG Offense (354) vs. Green Bay YPG Defense (271.5)
This stat nearly jumps off the page. The difference between Minnesota’s yards gained per game and Green Bay’s yards allowed per game amounts to a full 80+ yard touchdown drive. In a close divisional game, that could be the deciding score to determine the winner, and potentially, the NFC North title. If the Vikings end up with over 325 yards, it will likely lead to a road win for the Favre-led team. If they are held under 300 yards, it probably means they are heading back across the state line with a second loss.

Prediction: Green Bay- 24, Minnesota- 20

This is going to be a back-and-forth contest, with two teams that know each other well landing punches for 60 minutes. In the end, the Packers are much healthier than they were in Week 4, and the questions about the Vikings offensive play-calling from last week make for less confidence in their abilities to go on the road and defeat their rivals. Add in the home-field advantage of Lambeau Field, and that all equals a close win for the Packers.


By C.J. Griger for NFLandCollegeFootball.com

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