Without Randy Moss in the lineup, both teams will have to alter their game plans for Sunday's late afternoon game. Find out the feeling from both camps on where to attack and the matchups to watch, along with the injury situation.
VIKINGS GAME PLAN
After not missing a game for seven seasons, WR Randy Moss
will be out for the second consecutive game because of a strained right hamstring. The Vikings will try to gain control of the game with the running of Onterrio Smith
and a controlled passing attack featuring QB Daunte Culpepper
, TE Jermaine Wiggins
and WR Nate Burleson
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Vikings secondary vs. Packers QB Brett Favre
— Only five NFL QBs have thrown more than Favre's nine interceptions. The Vikings have only four picks, but they've dropped at least nine more. The Vikings intercepted Favre five times last season, including four times at Lambeau.
Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie vs. Packers RE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila — McKinnie was beaten badly for two sacks by Colts DE Dwight Freeney on Monday night. McKinnie has trouble with smaller, faster linemen. KGB, who is 6-4, 252 pounds, has 2.5 sacks this season.
Vikings linebackers vs. Packers RB Ahman Green — The Vikings' young linebackers probably hold the key to whether the team makes the playoffs this season. MLB E.J. Henderson needs to take better pass drops. Green has 23 catches and one touchdown receiving. He also averages 4.5 yards per rush with six touchdowns, including a 90-yarder. Nickel backs Dontarrious Thomas, a rookie, and Mike Nattiel, a second-year pro, need to eliminate costly mistakes in pass coverage that hurt the Vikings against the Colts. Green also is fumble prone. The linebackers need to go for the strip early and often.
WR Randy Moss will miss his second consecutive game because of a strained right hamstring. The loss is huge and could mean the difference between winning and losing. Moss always plays well against the Packers. He has 1,213 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns on 64 catches. The Vikings can't replace his explosiveness or his big plays on third downs.
WLB Chris Claiborne (strained left calf) is questionable. He returned to practice Wednesday and Thursday. If he makes it through a week of practice, he'll start. If he can't play, Mike Nattiel will start. The Vikings need Claiborne's veteran experience desperately.
WLB Raonall Smith, who missed the Colts game because of two recent concussions, is questionable. Don't expect him to play.
K Aaron Elling broke his right ankle and was placed on injured reserve. K Jose Cortez was signed Wednesday to handle kickoffs only. Morten Andersen handles place-kicks.
RB Mewelde Moore, who missed last week's game because of a sprained left ankle, was limited in practice Wednesday. The Vikings can get by without him because they have Onterrio Smith and Michael Bennett.
PACKERS GAME PLAN
On offense, the Packers should be in good shape against a Vikings defense that has been giving up points and yards in chunks. The Vikings are struggling at linebacker and in the secondary, especially against the pass. The Packers' offense has been in high gear and should be able to exploit the Vikings with running back Ahman Green and quarterback Brett Favre.
On defense, the expected absence of Randy Moss means the Packers can commit eight men against the Vikings' run game. It will place even more pressure on Daunte Culpepper to make plays. The Packers are vulnerable to both run and pass. If they have to blitz to apply pressure, Culpepper will find ways to beat them. But with Moss out, look for SS Mark Roman to spend most of the game at the line. That's how the Packers helped contain Washington's Clinton Portis to 70 yards in their last game two weeks ago.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Packers LG Mike Wahle, C Grey Ruegamer and RG Marco Rivera vs. Vikings DT Kevin Williams — Williams is a stud, able to bull rush and speed rush. He has quickness, size and dynamic explosion. The Packers' offensive line is a superb unit and almost never breaks down.
Packers NT Grady Jackson and DT Cletidus Hunt vs. Vikings LG Chris Liwienski, C Matt Birk and RG David Dixon — The Vikings are much better at the interior O-line positions than at tackle. The return of Jackson has been the key to the turnaround by the Packers' defense. Birk is a terrific player. Both Liwienski and Dixon are effective maulers.
S Darren Sharper (knee) is questionable. He sat out Wednesday. On Monday, Sharper said his chances to play against the Vikings was better than 50-50.
LB Paris Lenon (sprained knee) practiced Wednesday. He is questionable.
G Marco Rivera (ankle) worked Wednesday and should be fine.