Game Day Countdown: Packers-Vikings by position

Week 1 matchups are always big across the NFL. This Sunday there are none bigger than the Packers-Vikings clash, which kicks off at noon at Lambeau Field. The combatants are not only North Divison and border rivals, but also have a history of heated competition. Don't expect any warm fuzzies on the field for this one.<p> Here's a look at how the teams compare by position heading into Sunday's crucial contest.<P>

Part 1: OFFENSE

Quarterback: Green Bay's Brett Favre, recently named the No. 1 player in the NFL by The Sporting News, stands alone. Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper is a fine athlete in his own right and will certainly get a chance to test the GB secondary with weapon Randy Moss. However, Culpepper can be inconsistent. As long as Favre is on the field, the QB nod will always go to Green Bay in any matchup.

ADVANTAGE: PACKERS

Running backs: This is a lopsided comparison because Minnesota's Michael Bennett, who has never had a sub-100-yard game vs. Green Bay, is out with a stress fracture in his foot. Backup Doug Chapman has a sprained ankle, although he could play. That means that Moe Williams will get a shot. Williams was used as a third down specialist and has extrememly limited NFL experience, although he did score a 3-yard TD vs. the Packers last year.

Meanwhile, Green Bay boasts Pro Bowl back Ahman Green, who has posted three consecutive 1,00-yard seasons and is coming off a 1,200-plus yard season despite injury. Green is firmly established among the league's best RBs, and like his QB, a list of his accomplishments could fill this page. Minnesota didn't see Green at Lambeau last year, as he was out with a knee/quad tendon injury. Green Bay has depth here with converted fullback Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher, who won a battle for the No. 3 spot.

ADVANTAGE: PACKERS

Receivers: Yes, the Vikings have Randy Moss. That's a major weapon for their offense to say the least, as long as he's on the same page as Culpepper which didn't happen all the time in 2002. Moss will present a problem for Green Bay's secondary. Green Bay counters with Donald Driver, who in 2002 was a Pro Bowl selection, 1,000-yard receiver, and the team's Most Valuable Player. Maybe he doesn't have as many SportsCenter highlights as Moss, but Driver is building a well-deserved rep as a star WR and is a force to reckon with for the Vikings' secondary.

Also in the Packers' stable are Robert Ferguson, who is slowly starting to prove himself after coming in as the Packers' second-round pick in 2001 and failing to catch a pass his rookie season – plus the promising Javon Walker. The Vikings complement Moss with Northwestern product D'wayne Bates plus Nate Burleson.

Until Moss leaves Lambeau with a sub-par day, he holds the edge.

ADVANTAGE: VIKINGS

Offensive line: The Vikings boast a very strong center in Matt Birk at the heart of a massive offensive line. The fact that Culpepper was sacked 47 times last season (nearly twice as many as sacks as Favre endured) isn't a very good sign for Minnesota, however.

Green Bay's offensive line has talent, heart and, unfortunately, injuries. Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera will try to play with a torn MCL, which he did last year (with torn ligaments in both knees). Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher may be among the best tackle tandems, but are both coming off last season's serious injuries.

ADVANTAGE: TIE

Fullbacks: Veteran William Henderson, one of the handful of Super Bowl XXXI players left on the roster, is still the man in GB. Newcomer Nick Luchey is big, explosive and someone for the Vikings to watch.

ADVANTAGE: PACKERS

Tight ends: Green Bay is loaded after signing veteran free agent Wesley Walls to join starter Bubba Franks, a Pro Bowl pick who led the NFC in touchdowns by a tight end (7) last season.

Minnesota's Jim Kleinsasser provides solid blocking but wasn't a big receiving threat vs. Green Bay last year, catching just three passes for 17 yards over the course of the two meetings.

ADVANTAGE: PACKERS

Coming up next on PackerReport.com: A comparison of the Packers and Vikings on defense.


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