Vikings players have an appreciation for the mystique of Lambeau Field, but they will still try to overcome their statistical disadvantage and upset the Packers. We review the rankings for the two teams heading into Monday Night Football.
As maudlin as it may seem, there is a certain mystique to playing at Lambeau Field. To a man, those in the Vikings locker room remember the first time they came out of the tunnel into the venerable stadium that holds as much significance in the history of the NFL as Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field hold to the history of Major League Baseball.
What separates Green Bay is that it is a small town playing on the biggest stage in sports. During the week of preparation, Adrian Peterson
said playing at Lambeau harkens back to the days of high school football, where the field was tucked in the middle of a neighborhood. It is a standing monument to the blood-and-guts days of the NFL.
A pair of veteran Vikings – Jared Allen
and Visanthe Shiancoe
– have both seen Lambeau from the perspective of non-NFC North rivals as well as soldiers on the battlefield of the Border War. Both have come away from their experiences with respect for "their house."
"What percentage of people actually get to say they played Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field?" Allen asked. "Just being a fan of football, there's much history in it and it's such great rivalry. Going up there for Monday Night Football? It's going to be fun."
Shiancoe said that any rite of passage for an NFL player is to say they played a game at Lambeau Field and that the echoes of heroes past still reverberate in the house that Lombardi made famous.
"Playing at Lambeau is always going to be special, no matter what team you play for," Shiancoe said. "Not only Minnesota, because it's the rivalry within the division, but Lambeau is just historic within itself. You go in there, you feel the ghosts. Green Bay is Green Bay. It has so much history to it. It is an honor to go there and play."
The Packers and their fans are of the belief that they're on the fast track to history, adding another chapter to an already-thick book. The Vikings respect the venue, but the team may be another story. For those making their first trip to Lambeau, it will be one for the memories, but those memories will be a lot of sweeter if they leave with the win that ends the Packers' perfect 2011 season.
VIKINGS-PACKERS BY THE NUMBERS
The Vikings have the league's 18th-ranked offense (4th rushing, 29th passing) and 20th-ranked defense (5th rushing, 30th passing). The Packers have the fourth-ranked offense (20th rushing, 3rd passing) and the 30th-ranked defense (8th rushing, 31st passing).
The only team with a worse pass defense than the Vikings and Packers this season has been New England.
The Packers are averaging 416 yards a game on offense (312 passing, 104 rushing). The Vikings are averaging 333 yards a game (182 passing, 151 rushing).
The Vikings defense is allowing 368 yards a game (274 passing, 94 rushing). The Packers are 400 yards a game (300 passing, 100 rushing).
The Vikings are second in the league in average per rushing attempt (5.2 yards), behind only Philadelphia.
The Packers are first in the league in average per pass attempt at 9.88 yards. The Vikings are 25th in that category at 6.58 yards.
Neither team has thrown many interceptions. The Vikings and Packers have both thrown just four picks in eight games. For the Vikings, two of them came from Christian Ponder in one quarter against the Packers. For Green Bay, backup Matt Flynn has one of the team's four picks – coming on his only pass of the season.
The Packers are fourth in the league in third-down efficiency at 50 percent (converting 48 of 96). The Vikings are 11th at 41 percent (43 of 105). The league average is 39 percent.
Defensively, the Packers are 27th on third downs at 43.6 percent (44 of 101). The Vikings aren't much better at 26th, allowing conversions on 46 of 106 chances (43.4 percent). Both are markedly above the league average of 39 percent.
Mason Crosby has made all 15 of his field goal attempts this season.
The Packers are third in the league in giveaway/takeaway ratio at plus-11 (19 takeaways, eight giveaways). The Vikings are tied for seventh at plus-4 (11 takeaways, seven giveaways).
The Packers' 19 takeaways are second only to Buffalo, which entered play this weekend with 20.
The Vikings' seven giveaways are second only to Detroit, which entered play Sunday with just five giveaways (but turned the ball over six times Sunday against Chicago).
The Packers are eighth in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 59.4 percent of possessions (19 of 32 drives). The Vikings are 16th, scoring TDs at a 51.7 percent clip (15 of 29).
Defensively, the Vikings are fifth in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 11 of 28 possessions (39.3 percent). The Packers are tied for 13th at 50 percent (13 of 26).
The Packers lead the league in yards on first down at 7.1 yards per play. The Vikings are 20th at 5.5 yards per play.
Defensively, the Vikings are 10th on first down, allowing 5.5 yards per play. The Packers are 31st, allowing 6.8 yards per play.
Aaron Rodgers has six 300-yard passing games. The Vikings have none.
The Vikings have allowed three 300-yard passers. The Packers have allowed five, including three QBs to throw for 385 or more yards.
Michael Jenkins has the Vikings' only 100-yard receiving game. The Packers have six – three from Greg Jennings, two from Jordy Nelson and one from James Jones.
Defensively, the Packers have allowed six 100-yard receivers (including Jenkins), while the Vikings have allowed five (including Jennings).
Rodgers is only 16th in the league in pass attempts (265), which make the rest of his numbers so amazing. He is sixth in completions (192), first in completion percentage (72.5), fourth in yards (2,619), first in average per attempt (9.88), first in touchdown passes (24), tied for third in interceptions (3) ands first in passer rating (129.1).
Drew Brees entered play this weekend second in passer rating at 100.6. Rodgers has had a passer rating above 111.0 in every game he has played this season.
Christian Ponder hasn't thrown enough passes yet to qualify among the league leaders in passer rating. He has a passer rating of 77.5, which would only be 26th in the league. Donovan McNabb is still ranked 18th with a passer rating of 82.9.
Rodgers is second in the league in fourth-quarter passer rating at 111.5, behind only Eli Manning (121.7). Christian Ponder is 18th with a passer rating of 79.0, almost identical to 79.0-and-change McNabb amassed as the starter.
Rodgers is second in the league in third-down passer rating at 114.5. He trails only Drew Brees (126.8). McNabb was 29th at 60.9, which may explain why he's watching and not playing.
Peterson entered the weekend fourth in the league in rushing with 795 yards. But, thanks to our crack stat staff, we know Peterson needs 123 yards to take the league lead. He currently trails Fred Jackson (917), LeSean McCoy (906), Matt Forte (869) and Maurice Jones-Drew (854).
James Starks leads the Packers with 440 rushing yards, which entered the weekend tied for 22nd in the league.
Peterson is tied for the league lead on third-and-1 rushing efficiency, converting all five carries he's had.
Jennings is fourth in the league in receptions with 48. Percy Harvin leads the Vikings with 31, which tied him for 44th entering play in Week 10.
Jennings is sixth in receiving yards with 723. Nelson entered Week 10 at 18th with 570 yards. Jenkins leads the Vikings with 362 yards, which was tied for 58th in league through nine weeks.
Peterson is third in the league in scoring among non-kickers with 10 touchdowns. He trails Shady McCoy of the Eagles (12 TDs) and Calvin Johnson of the Lions (11 TDs).
Crosby entered Week 10 tied for fifth in scoring with 77 points. Ryan Longwell was tied for 18th with 58 points.
Jared Allen led the league with 12.5 sacks heading into Week 10. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys notched one sack Sunday, giving him the lead (possibly only temporarily) with 13 sacks.
For those Vikings fans expecting to see tonight's game on the local ABC affiliate, they won't. In a bidding process held last spring, the local NBC affiliate (KARE) outbid KSTP – the incumbent ABC affiliate – for the broadcast rights.
In one of the ironies of all ironies, heading into Week 10, the San Francisco 49ers were 7-1 and atop the NFC West. Everyone else stunk … bad. Against odds closer to lottery wins and lighting hits than something Vegas would book, all four teams in the anemic NFC West won Sunday. Considering the three teams other than San Francisco were a combined 5-19 and prohibitive underdogs and a significant amount of "experts" picked the Niners to lose to the Giants, the odds against all four winning were astronomical.
If it helps any, being a home team this week has been a kiss of death. 10 of the 15 games played in Week 10 have been won by the road team.
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.