Vikings-Packers game plan

The matchup of teams seems a bit slanted toward the Packers with their impressive passing game, undefeated record and homefield advantage. But there are some matchups the Vikings can rely on to help answer the Green Bay attack.

VIKINGS

Like most, if not all, teams, the Vikings don't have the firepower offensively to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' No. 1-ranked scoring offense. The Vikings also don't have the secondary to match the Packers' receivers.

So the Vikings must do two things: 1. Control the ball on offense with Adrian Peterson and a conservative passing plan in rookie Christian Ponder's Lambeau Field debut; and 2. Make Rodgers uncomfortable — if that's even possible — with a front-four pass rush led by NFL sacks leader Jared Allen.

PACKERS

Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier doesn't anticipate Ponder will be fazed making his third pro start under the bright lights on Monday night for the first time — and at iconic Lambeau Field, to boot. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers may have something to say, er, do about that. Capers' beleaguered defense has come under great scrutiny of late, and a mostly impressive starting debut by Ponder in the NFC North rivals' first meeting Oct. 23 contributed to the handwringing.

Ponder's game-opening deep pass of 72 yards to Michael Jenkins at the expense of CB Tramon Williams opened plenty of eyes. The Packers, who rank second from the bottom in the league for pass defense, don't want a repeat. So, look for Capers to turn things up with the pressure much earlier than he did in the last meeting and keep Ponder from getting comfortable in the pocket. Devoting more guys up near the line would serve a second and more important purpose of trying to bottle up RB Adrian Peterson. Minnesota's ball-carrying wunderkind gashed Green Bay's slumping defense for 175 yards and a gaudy per-rush average of 7.3 yards three weeks ago.

As for the Packers' potent offense, it received an unusual lift from its running game, specifically James Starks (13 carries, 75 yards), in closing out that 33-27 win after the Vikings made a late comeback. Still, it was Aaron Rodgers, as usual, who carried the day with his passing exploits — going 24-of-30 for 335 yards and three touchdowns for a near-perfect passer rating of 146.5. Minnesota was handcuffed in the secondary for that one because of injuries and the arrest of CB Chris Cook a day before the game. Cook remains out, but the Vikings will have veteran CB Antoine Winfield available after he's been sidelined the last four games because of a serious neck injury. Winfield has played well against the Packers in the past, but even his presence won't deter head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy from dealing with the hot right hand of Rodgers, who has won three in a row against Minnesota.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Vikings DE Jared Allen, who leads the NFL in sacks with 12.5 vs. Packers LT Marshall Newhouse, who gave up two sacks to Allen in the Packers' Oct. 23 win at the Metrodome. Allen doesn't have the monstrous advantage of the home-crowd noise of the Metrodome. But he's still in a zone that's unlike any other he's experienced in his eight-year career. He has a sack in 10 consecutive games, a franchise record. Newhouse will no doubt get some help from tight ends and running backs.

Newhouse, a second-year player, will be making his fourth straight start in place of injured veteran Chad Clifton. Newhouse should be a lot more at ease in his rematch with Allen, whose 12 sacks in eight meetings with the Packers are his most against any team.

Vikings CB Cedric Griffin, who has surrendered big plays all season, vs. Packers WR Greg Jennings, who leads the Packers in receptions (48), receiving yards (723) and touchdowns (six). Jennings will move from side to side, so he'll probably be covered by more than one cornerback. Griffin has consistently given up completions for long gains and touchdowns, but remains a starter for now because the Vikings have few options with Chris Cook away from the team while contesting a felony domestic assault charge. Jennings had seven catches for 147 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown in the Oct. 23 win at the Metrodome. Griffin did not give up the touchdown. That particular play was the result of a zone coverage bust in which free safety Husain Abdullah simply lost sight of Jennings running all alone down the right sideline. Asher Allen, the corner on that side at the time, turned Jennings loose because he thought he had help over the top. Jennings caught the ball and jogged the final 40 yards or so to the end zone.

Jennings' best receiving numbers have come against the Vikings — 49 catches for 759 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games.


Viking Update Top Stories

\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Like most, if not all, teams, the Vikings don't have the firepower offensively to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' No. 1-ranked scoring offense. The Vikings also don't have the secondary to match the Packers' receivers. So the Vikings must do two things: 1. Control the ball on offense with Adrian Peterson and a conservative passing plan in rookie Christian Ponder's Lambeau Field debut; and 2. Make Rodgers uncomfortable — if that's even possible — with a front-four pass rush led by NFL sacks leader Jared Allen. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier doesn't anticipate Ponder will be fazed making his third pro start under the bright lights on Monday night for the first time — and at iconic Lambeau Field, to boot. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers may have something to say, er, do about that. Capers' beleaguered defense has come under great scrutiny of late, and a mostly impressive starting debut by Ponder in the NFC North rivals' first meeting Oct. 23 contributed to the handwringing. Ponder's game-opening deep pass of 72 yards to Michael Jenkins at the expense of CB Tramon Williams opened plenty of eyes. The Packers, who rank second from the bottom in the league for pass defense, don't want a repeat. So, look for Capers to turn things up with the pressure much earlier than he did in the last meeting and keep Ponder from getting comfortable in the pocket. Devoting more guys up near the line would serve a second and more important purpose of trying to bottle up RB Adrian Peterson. Minnesota's ball-carrying wunderkind gashed Green Bay's slumping defense for 175 yards and a gaudy per-rush average of 7.3 yards three weeks ago. As for the Packers' potent offense, it received an unusual lift from its running game, specifically James Starks (13 carries, 75 yards), in closing out that 33-27 win after the Vikings made a late comeback. Still, it was Aaron Rodgers, as usual, who carried the day with his passing exploits — going 24-of-30 for 335 yards and three touchdowns for a near-perfect passer rating of 146.5. Minnesota was handcuffed in the secondary for that one because of injuries and the arrest of CB Chris Cook a day before the game. Cook remains out, but the Vikings will have veteran CB Antoine Winfield available after he's been sidelined the last four games because of a serious neck injury. Winfield has played well against the Packers in the past, but even his presence won't deter head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy from dealing with the hot right hand of Rodgers, who has won three in a row against Minnesota. Allen doesn't have the monstrous advantage of the home-crowd noise of the Metrodome. But he's still in a zone that's unlike any other he's experienced in his eight-year career. He has a sack in 10 consecutive games, a franchise record. Newhouse will no doubt get some help from tight ends and running backs. Newhouse, a second-year player, will be making his fourth straight start in place of injured veteran Chad Clifton. Newhouse should be a lot more at ease in his rematch with Allen, whose 12 sacks in eight meetings with the Packers are his most against any team. Jennings will move from side to side, so he'll probably be covered by more than one cornerback. Griffin has consistently given up completions for long gains and touchdowns, but remains a starter for now because the Vikings have few options with Chris Cook away from the team while contesting a felony domestic assault charge. Jennings had seven catches for 147 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown in the Oct. 23 win at the Metrodome. Griffin did not give up the touchdown. That particular play was the result of a zone coverage bust in which free safety Husain Abdullah simply lost sight of Jennings running all alone down the right sideline. Asher Allen, the corner on that side at the time, turned Jennings loose because he thought he had help over the top. Jennings caught the ball and jogged the final 40 yards or so to the end zone. Jennings' best receiving numbers have come against the Vikings — 49 catches for 759 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games. 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