Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 3:15 p.m.
TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
KEYS TO THE GAME: Vikings QB Christian Ponder was more effective throwing on the move during the preseason. Combined with the poor pass protection in Chicago last Sunday night, look for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to give the rookie plenty of bootlegs and to move the pocket. Of course, the most important factor is RB Adrian Peterson being effective against eight- and nine-man fronts. The Packers have a plus-seven turnover margin and a big-play secondary, so Ponder's accuracy will be put to the test. Green Bay's offense has been rolling, but it is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. That could open the door for DE Jared Allen to have a major impact rushing QB Aaron Rodgers' blind side against LT Marshall Newhouse.
TEAM RANKINGS: Packers offense — 1st in scoring (32.8); 4th in yards (423.7); 24th in rushing (98.5); 3rd in passing (325.2). Vikings defense — 15th in scoring (24.2); 15th in yards (353.0); 4th in rushing (83.5); 24th in passing (269.5).
Packers defense — 7th in scoring (19.0); 23rd in yards (383.7); 5th in rushing (84.0); 30th in passing (299.7). Vikings offense — 21st in scoring (20.2); 23rd in yards (310.8); 3rd in rushing (142.3); 31st in passing (168.7).
FAST FACTS: Of Allen's 92.5 career sacks, 10 have come against the Packers. ... Green Bay's 12-game winning streak ties a franchise record.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13.6 — Average margin of victory for the Packers in their franchise-record-tying 12-game winning streak, which started last season and includes the playoffs. The winning margin for the 1961 and '62 teams in their record-setting 12 straight victories was 23.3. 807 — Number of rushing yards in eight games against the Packers by running back Adrian Peterson. He averages 4.9 yards per carry with five touchdowns. He holds the team record for most rushing yards against the Packers in a game (192 in 2008) and is closing in on Bill Brown's career mark of 862. 6-2 — Packers' dome record since Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times in a 30-23 loss at the Metrodome on Oct. 5, 2009. Rodgers in those outings has completed 206-of-287 passes (71.8 percent) for 2,717 yards and 21 touchdowns with only one interception for a gaudy passer rating of 124.3. He has thrown for at least 300 yards in all but one of those games.
GAME PLAN: Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier didn't waste any time earlier this week in anointing rookie Christian Ponder the starting quarterback for Sunday's game and apparently the rest of the season. Taking away the element of surprise when Frazier could have waffled throughout the week between struggling veteran Donovan McNabb and Ponder has given Green Bay ample time to study Ponder and build its game plan around him. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers more often than not gets the better of a rookie quarterback, though Capers didn't sit easy in the coaches' box at Carolina in Week 2 this season, when Cam Newton shredded Green Bay's wobbly pass defense for 432 yards.
The Vikings took Ponder 11 selections after Newton was off the April draft board as the No. 1 overall pick. Like Newton, Ponder moves well outside the pocket, but the first-time starter out of Florida State isn't nearly as stout as Newton. Throwing a steady diet of blitzes off the edges could be Capers' approach to keep Ponder between the tackles. The Packers' primary focal point with Minnesota's offense is trying to contain star halfback Adrian Peterson, who is averaging 4.4 yards per rush and already has seven touchdowns on the ground. Minnesota undoubtedly will look to Peterson on track early and give Ponder time to settle in. Green Bay will have to be better than it has played against the run the last three games, allowing an average of 113 yards to the opposition. On offense for the Packers, it should be more of the same from Mike McCarthy in making liberal use of MVP front-runner Aaron Rodgers and his arsenal of weapons in the passing game on the fast indoor track. The Vikings are a mess in the secondary.
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