Edge: Packers defense
This will be a very easy game for the Packers' defense to game plan against. They are facing a very weak offense led by quarterback Brad Johnson, who is as close to a sitting duck as any other quarterback they will see.
The Vikings will want to try to run the ball, which I believe this Packers defense can stop unless the coaches don't move Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila around. He is the weak link on the defense at this time when it comes to stopping the run. Hopefully, the coaching staff sees what the rest of the world is seeing and that is that he isn't getting it done.
Also, I expect that A.J. Hawk didn't like the taste in his month he got on the touchdown run by the "A-Train," Anthony Thomas, when he got destroyed on the block. That's when it looked like the defense just quit. Do I blame them? As I see it they played their butts off except for one play. They simply shut the Bills down and still lost. Think about it, one play on defense where the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing, which isn't supposed to happen at this time in the season, and it cost them. The greatest thing about it was that after the game everyone had a different version of the play until Monday when they all got their stories straight, which means they have more problems then they care to admit with the defensive secondary.
As much as we want to put the blame on the players, the more I see it the coaches are the ones that need to be held accountable. I know there are those that want to blame Al Harris and the only blame that I can put on him is that he needs to catch the ball when it touches his hands because I have no problem with his coverage skills. If he wants top-notch money he has to earn it, and so far he hasn't. Also he needs to stop pointing fingers and stop throwing his teammates or coaches under the bus in public. Do it behind closed doors, or at least wait until the play is over. So, defensively, I feel the Packers will hold their own against the Vikings. I give the Packers the edge in this area, but unfortunately that's where it stops.
Edge: Vikings special teams
Special teams-wise, even though every Packer fan hopes that Ryan Longwell has a bad game and misses a couple of field goals and kicks short kickoffs, which might happen, I don't want the game to come down to a field goal. Even though he is wearing the purple he still is Mr. Clutch. I know Dave Rayner has done a very good job, but any time you face the guy you replaced, for some reason you put added pressure on yourself. Winning in Minnesota is tough enough, so the field goal kicking edge goes to the Vikings, not the kickoff, of course, because he is knocking the skin off the ball on kickoffs. Another edge that the Vikings might have is in the return game because of Melwelde Moore, their punt returner. With the way the coverage team has performed, this just might not be a good situation for the Packers specials teams. Give this edge to the Vikings.
Edge: Vikings defense
Offensively for the Packers, this is where it gets scary. How will they attack the Vikings defense? Last week against the Bills I realized that Mike McCarthy didn't have as much of a feel for the game as I thought he would, or he never would have thrown the ball to Donald Driver on first and goal. He would have ran the ball. So what does he do this game? Does he take the New England Patriots' approach and try and out-score them by passing the ball? Or does he try to force the run? This will tell me a lot about this staff and its philosophy. I know what I would do and that would be to spread the Vikings out and make them stop me.
As I see it, to ask Scott Wells, Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz to push the Williams boys around would not make a bunch of sense. Why play into their strength, which is stopping the run. Don't get me wrong I would still run the ball, but I would do it with different personnel. I would run out of "E" personnel which is two backs and three receivers. This should get the defense's nickel personnel or "ZEBRA" personnel (1 back, 1 tight end and 3 receivers) which would be the dime defense on the field and spread the field.
I don't think Mike McCarthy can go into this game expecting to pound the ball and move this defense around, and I really hope he won't let his philosophy or ego get into the way, trying to prove something he really doesn't have to prove. Last week at the most crucial time in the game, instead of going right at the Bills he tried to trick them and it cost the Packers a well-deserved win. Now this week when he needs to try and be tricky, I believe, to win, I hope he does because that's what they will need to do to win. Will it be easy to go into Minnesota with a plan to throw? Not at all because we all know about all the ghosts that live in that stadium and we all understand how it has affected Brett Favre. Then again, what choice do they really have?
As I see it the best way to win is to make the Vikings have to keep up with them. They have to make the Vikings put the ball in the air to catch up. The only way that happens is that the Packers become aggressive and turn it lose, then hope that the Vikings offense is as bad as it appears. Just like the Vikings' backs are against the wall so are the Packers because they don't want to go to 3-6. Because of that loss last Sunday, the pressure is on Mike McCarthy, so WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO,
Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.