Christian Ponder will look for a more consistent performance against the Packers while Green Bay looks for a more consistent running game. Get the fast facts, keys to the game, series history and reports from both camps.
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Minnesota Vikings (2-6) at Green Bay Packers (8-0)
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Natural Grass
TV: ESPN, Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden, Rachel Nichols
KEYS TO THE GAME:
As solidly as QB Christian Ponder
played in his first career start against Green Bay three weeks ago, he was also 0-for-5 passing with two interceptions as the Packers outscored the Vikings 20-0 in the third quarter. Minnesota can't afford that type of inconsistency, and it can't fall behind by multiple scores and marginalize RB Adrian Peterson
's role. Peterson has become more involved in the passing game and the Packers are giving up yards in large chunks, but they're also opportunistic. Green Bay will try to turn this into a shootout on the arm of red-hot QB Aaron Rodgers
. Minnesota's undermanned secondary needs a massive effort out of DE Jared Allen
Peterson had 175 rushing yards on 24 carries (7.3-yard average) in the first meeting. ... The Packers have scored 24-plus points in a franchise-record 24 straight games.
101st regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 52-47-1. The Packers are 27-23-1 as the home team. The teams also met once in the playoffs, with the Vikings winning 31-17 at Lambeau Field in a 2004 Wild Card game. The Packers won both games last season, including a 31-3 rout at the Metrodome.
DE Jared Allen will be playing his ninth game against the Packers. He already has 12 sacks against them, including a 4.5-sack effort in a Monday nighter at the Metrodome in 2009. He also has an interception and four passes defensed against the Packers.
RB Adrian Peterson will be playing in his ninth game on a Monday night. He's yet to have one of his usual breakout games, but his 103 yards rushing in a loss at Green Bay in 2008 is the fifth-best rushing total by a Vikings player on Monday night.
QB Christian Ponder has two starts this season. His predecessor, Donovan McNabb, had six. Yet Ponder already leads McNabb in first-down passes on third or fourth down, 16-14.
CB Brandon Burton, a rookie fifth-round draft pick, has become more valuable with Chris Cook away from the team fighting a felony domestic assault charge. Burton has been active in three of the past four games, but has played only special teams. He had his first special teams tackle at Carolina two weeks ago.
S Eric Frampton continues to be a quiet leader on special teams. He had two more tackles against Carolina. He's second on the team this year with 11 special teams tackles. He also has 74 special teams tackles in just 63 games over the past five seasons.
The Packers' depth chart at the midway point of the season remains unchanged from the beginning of the season with Ryan Grant as the starting halfback.
Yet, the trend of the last four games is James Starks has supplanted Grant as the featured back, never mind the team's ongoing platoon arrangement.
Since Grant's return from a one-game absence because of a kidney injury, he has been on the field for 66 plays (not including kneel-downs). Starks has that nearly doubled with his snap count at 123. Starks has received more playing time than Grant in each of the four games, and the margin widened in the Packers' 45-38 win at the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, when Starks played 36 snaps to only 11 for Grant.
The disparity in production, or lack thereof in Grant's case, mirrors the playing-time numbers. Starks has run for 230 yards in 51 carries, dwarfing Grant's meager output of 88 yards in 29 rushing attempts.
QB Aaron Rodgers on Wednesday was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season, making him the first player to accomplish that feat after the initial nine weeks of the season since Seattle Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander in 2005. Rodgers was 21-of-26 passing for 247 yards and a career-high-tying four touchdowns without an interception in the unbeaten Packers' 45-38 win at the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Rodgers also matched his career best with 52 rushing yards.
LT Marshall Newhouse will make his fourth straight start as QB Aaron Rodgers' blind-side protector with veteran Chad Clifton out indefinitely because of a torn hamstring. Newhouse's second pro start at left tackle came against Vikings All-Pro DE Jared Allen in the Packers' win at Minnesota on Oct. 23.
SS Charlie Peprah set a team record Sunday with his career-high two interceptions. The picks resulted in a total of 116 return yards, breaking the previous single-game record of 99 yards shared by Maurice Harvey in 1981, Tim Lewis in 1984 and Aaron Rouse in 2008. Peprah returned his first interception 40 yards for a touchdown and clinched the victory with a pick in the final 30 seconds that he returned 76 yards for nearly another TD. Peprah is second on the team with a career-best four interceptions.
ILB Desmond Bishop was credited by the coaches in their film review with a team-high 10 tackles Sunday, one fewer than what he had in the press-box statistics on game day. Bishop has posted three straight games with double-digit tackles and leads the team with 94 this season, including 75 solo as well as a club-high four sacks.