When: Sunday, 3:15 p.m.
TV: Fox (Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver).
Series: 97th regular-season meeting. Packers lead 49-46-1. They are 25-22-1 at home against the Vikings. The Vikings beat the Packers 31-17 in their only playoff meeting during the 2004 season and also defeated the Packers 30-23 on Oct. 5 at the Metrodome in Brett Favre's first matchup against his former team.
Keys to the game
The Packers focused on RB Adrian Peterson in the first meeting and the result was a 24-for-31 passing effort with three touchdowns by QB Brett Favre, who wasn't sacked. Green Bay is healthier in the secondary this time around and expected to apply far more pressure up front. Minnesota got too pass-heavy in last Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh and needs to get Peterson more touches even if he was held to 55 rushing yards Oct. 5. ... The Packers' dilemma is how to manage some consistent yards against Minnesota's stout run defense. "Achieving balance" isn't a cliche for the Packers — without it, Green Bay will have to adjust its passing game and leave a tight end or running back behind to help with DE Jared Allen (4.5 sacks in first meeting) in long passing situations. Aaron Rodgers tends to hold the ball too long, but needs to make quick decisions and unload with Allen charging from his blind side.
Favre is 7-0 with a 102.0 passer rating against teams with Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers as the head coach or coordinator. ... The Packers' defense has 11 interceptions this season. ... Green Bay ranks eighth in offense (13th rushing, 10th passing) and third in defense (12th rushing, fourth passing). The Vikings rank 12th in offense (12th rushing, 13th passing)) and 17th in defense (10th rush, 20th pass). ... With the Packers' two-game surge, they join the Vikings in ranking in the top 10 of the league in several categories. Green Bay is tied for second in turnover margin, eighth in total offense, 10th in passing offense, third in total defense, fourth in passing defense, ninth in third-down offense and eighth in third-down defense. Minnesota is tied for fifth in turnover margin, third in third-down offense, seventh in third-down defense and first in red-zone defense.
Packers: Out — FB Korey Hall (calf); WR Jordy Nelson (knee). Doubtful — TE Jermichael Finley (knee); C/G Jason Spitz (back). Questionable — T Chad Clifton (ankle); S Derrick Martin (hamstring); DE Jarius Wynn (hamstring). Probable — LB Clay Matthews (jaw); QB Aaron Rodgers (foot); G Josh Sitton (hand); T Mark Tauscher (knee); CB Charles Woodson (hip).
Vikings: Out — CB Antoine Winfield (foot). Questionable — WR Bernard Berrian (hamstring); LB Jasper Brinkley (hamstring); WR Percy Harvin (illness); WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring). Probable — QB Brett Favre (hip); LB E.J. Henderson (knee); LB Ben Leber (calf); CB Karl Paymah (quadriceps); FB Naufahu Tahi (probable).
Packers: FB Korey Hall, S Matt Giordano, T Breno Giacomini, C Jason Spitz, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Jermichael Finley, DE Jarius Wynn, LB Jeremy Thompson.
Vikings: QB Sage Rosenfels (third quarterback), CB Antoine Winfield, RB Albert Young, FB Naufahu Tahi, C Jon Cooper, WR/PR Darius Reynaud, DE Jayme Mitchell, DT Letroy Guion. TE Jeff Dugan will start for Tahi at fullback.
The pressure is on Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers to make amends for what he did in the first matchup against Brett Favre and the Vikings offense just four weeks ago. While Capers was lauded for bottling up running back Adrian Peterson, who ran for only 55 yards and an average of 2.2 yards per carry, he lost sight of what Favre could do throwing the football. Capers refrained from heavy blitzing in Green Bay's 3-4 scheme, and Favre picked the secondary apart for 271 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-31 accuracy in the Vikings' seven-point win. The Packers consider the electric Peterson to be the top priority to contain, but their reconfigured lineup since the earlier meeting should allow Capers to be more aggressive with the play calls. Pass-rushing linebacker Aaron Kampman is being used at the line more, hard-hitting safety Atari Bigby is playing again after an early-season knee injury, and rookie linebacker Clay Matthews is a full-time playmaker. On offense, the Packers figure to try to change things up after head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy all but abandoned the run game in the loss at the Metrodome — featured back Ryan Grant carried the football only 11 times for 51 yards. Grant is coming off a season-best outing of 27 carries for 148 yards against the Cleveland Browns. Getting him active and churning out yards from the outset Sunday will further soften a suspect back end of the Vikings defense that will be without injured leader Antoine Winfield at cornerback. Aaron Rodgers outdid Favre with 384 yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-37 throwing in the first game, despite being under constant duress (career-high eight sacks). The offensive line has a lot to prove in this one.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.