The Packers secondary won't have a couple of new additions from the PUP list, and they could use them. Both teams have been disappointing in several statistical categories this year. We run down the rankings for both teams.
There was a lot of optimism in Green Bay this week that the Packers would activate defensive backs Al Harris
and Atari Bigby
from the physically unable to perform list. The optimism got dashed Saturday, as Green Bay Press Gazette reported that the Packers won't activate either player for Sunday's game with the Vikings.
By league rule, players who start the season on the PUP list can't return until six weeks into the season. That came after Monday's Tennessee-Jacksonville game. Former Viking Darren Sharper
was activated off the Saints PUP list Saturday – but the Packers didn't activate any of their PUP players.
It was expected that Bigby would not be ready for tonight's game, but there was reason to be confident that Harris would be in the lineup – even if as the third corner in nickel passing situations. With Harris out, starting cornerbacks Charles Woodson
and Tramon Williams
are backed up by Pat Lee
, who has played in just 10 games in his three-year NFL career and undrafted rookie Sam Shields
. With Bigby out, the Packers have just three safeties on the roster – Nick Collins
, Charlie Peprah
and Jarrett Bush
Harris is still trying to return from reconstructive knee surgery from an injury suffered last November against San Francisco. Bigby has been sidelined since ankle surgery Aug. 6. Both, it was hoped, would be on track to return and even earlier this week when the two were able to practice fully with the team. On Friday, both players expressed optimism that they would be activated for the game. But, when it came time to make the decision – the end of NFL business on Saturday – neither was activated.
For a team looking to shut down former teammate Brett Favre
and new Vikings receiver Randy Moss
, the Packers were hoping that replacement troops were coming this week. As it turned out, they won't be and they will have to make due with their starters and extremely thin depth.
VIKINGS-PACKERS BY THE NUMBERS
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 1-11 in his career in games decided by four points or less.
Brett Favre has become the latest target of a rip from Saturday Night Live. The sketch comedy show last night included a skit on Open-Fly Jeans from Wrangler. In a related note, Wrangler is reducing the number of Favre-related commercials it runs in light of the current NFL investigation. The powers that be at Wrangler clearly won't be happy with the parody, which included Favre using a cell phone to take photos of a questionable nature.
The Vikings have the 24th-ranked offense (11th rushing, 24th passing) and the fifth-ranked defense (11th rushing, 6th passing). The Packers have the 13th-ranked offense (19th rushing, 10th passing) and the 15th-ranked defense (21st rushing, 17th passing).
The Vikings are averaging 301.8 yards per game (177.6 yards passing, 124.2 yards rushing). The Packers are averaging 345.2 yards per game (243.3 passing, 101.8 rushing).
The Vikings defense is allowing 294.2 yards per game (192 passing, 102.2 rushing). The Packers are allowing 327.8 yards per game (215.5 passing, 112.3 rushing).
While the rushing totals don't jump off the page at you – the Vikings 11th and the Packers 19th – it's more because of fewer rushing plays than other NFL teams. While their rushing totals are middle of the road, the Vikings are 8th in the league in average gain per rushing attempt. Shockingly, the Packers are 7th.
Last year, both Rodgers and Favre threw seven interceptions in a personal battle. As they meet for the third time tonight, both of them have already thrown seven interceptions each.
Neither team is adept at protecting its quarterback. The Packers are 20th in the league is sacks allowed per pass play. The Vikings are worse at 26th.
The Vikings have made a concerted effort in not allowing punt return yards. It has shown in the difference between their gross and net punting average. Gross average tells you how far a punt goes. The Vikings are 23rd in that category and the Packers are 24th. Net punt average factors in punts that go in the end zone and return yards. In that category, the Vikings are fourth. The Packers are 30th.
The Vikings are last in the league in punt yard return average at 2.7 yards. The Packers are third at 16.0 yards. Perhaps that is why the Vikings might want Percy Harvin to return punts.
The Packers defense is fourth in the league in sacks per pass play. The Vikings are 30th.
As a team, the Vikings defense has six sacks in five games. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has played five games and he has 8.5 sacks. As a team, the Packers have 21 sacks.
The Vikings and Packers are both on the downside of the giveaway/takeaway numbers after being near the top of the league all of last season. The Packers are tied for 19th at minus-2 (nine takeaways, 11 giveaways). The Vikings are tied for 29th at minus-5 (seven takaways, 12 giveaways).
Only Jacksonville (minus-7) and San Francisco (minus-8) are worse than the Vikings on the giveaway/takeaway scale. It's no surprise both are in last place in their respective divisions.
The Vikings have rushed the ball 138 times. The Packers have rushed 134 times, despite playing one more game.
Both the Vikings and Packers are on the downside of time of possession. The Vikings have averaged having the ball for 29:34. The Packers are at 29:15.
The Packers defense has allowed 18 first downs via penalty. The Vikings have allowed just three.
The Packers offense is rated No. 5 in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 11 of 17 drives (64.7 percent). The Vikings are tied for 21st, having scored touchdowns on just five of 11 red zone opportunities (45.5 percent).
Only the Carolina Panthers have fewer red zone touchdowns than the Vikings. They have scored TDs on just two of nine red zone drives.
The Vikings defense is fifth in the red zone, allowing just five TDs on 13 red zone chances (38.5 percent). The Packers are tied for 11th at 42.9 percent – six touchdowns in 14 red zone chances.
The league average on converting third downs is 38.5 percent. The Vikings are above that at 40 percent (26 of 65), while the Packers are below at 36.2 percent (25 of 69).
The Vikings defense is below the league average at 36.8 percent (25 of 68). The Packers are above the league average at 40.2 percent (33 of 82).
Rodgers has two 300-yard passing games. Favre has none.
The Packers have allowed two 300-yard passers. The Vikings have yet to allow one.
The Packers have had a 100-yard receiver three times – Jermichael Finley, who is lost for the season, had two and Greg Jennings has one. No Vikings have topped 100 yards this season.
The Packers have allowed two 100-yard receivers. The Vikings have allowed none.
Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing games. Brandon Jackson of the Packers has one. The Packers have allowed just one 100-yard rusher. The Vikings have yet to allow a running back to top 100 yards this season.
Rodgers is seventh in the league in passing yards (1,546 yards) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (10), but is 13th in passer rating at 89.7.
Favre is 22nd in yards (979), tied for 22nd in touchdowns (six) and 28th in passer rating at 72.1.
In the fourth quarter with games on the line, both Rodgers and Favre have been disappointing. Rodgers is 23rd in the league with a passer rating of 74.4. Favre is 33rd with a passer rating of 53.7. For comparison purposes, Peyton Manning has a fourth-quarter passer rating of 116.5.
On third downs, Favre has a passer rating of just 69.3 – 23rd in the league. Rodgers is even worse at 25th, with a passer rating of just 59.0.
Peterson is fourth in the league in rushing with 553 yards. He would be in first based on average rushing yards per game – the three players ahead of him have played six games. Brandon Jackson is 22nd with 305 yards.
Peterson is a perfect 6-for-6 on third-and-one conversions on rushes. Marion Barber leads the league, having made good on 8-of-8 – including three against the Vikings last week.
Donald Driver is tied for 28th in the league with 28 receptions. Harvin leads the Vikings with 20, which ties him for 58th in the league.
Mason Crosby is tied for 13th in the league in scoring with 43 points. Ryan Longwell is 31st with just 21 points.
Both Crosby and Longwell have kicked just one touchback, meaning both teams should have opportunities to bring kicks back – even though the Packers are likely not going to kick to Harvin too often.
Peterson is sixth in the league in total yards with 656 (553 rushing, 127 receiving). Of the players ahead of him, he would rank second based on games played.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.