The Vikings have yet to beat the Packers since Brad Childress became Minnesota's head coach in 2006. But this Vikings team should be a definite improvement over the first two teams Childress coached. That starts with an offense that should get improved play from second-year starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson not only is expected to be a more poised passer but he also has receiver Bernard Berrian to stretch the field.
Last season, the Packers and other teams simply put their focus on trying to stop the Vikings run game because they knew Jackson and Co. were unlikely to beat them through the air. That should no longer be the case. What will be interesting to see is how the speedy Berrian fares against the man coverage the Packers play on a regular basis.
If Berrian catches a few passes early, that could alter how Green Bay can approach things.
The Vikings defense will be without veteran safety Madieu Williams - signed as a free agent from Cincinnati during the offseason - but the marquee edition to the team will be in uniform.
Jared Allen, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, will be the starting right end and his presence should make a big difference for a pass defense that finished last in the NFL a season ago.
The Vikings have one of the league's best run stopping units and with Allen now pressuring from the edge, teams no longer will be able to abandon the run and just throw the ball against the Vikings.
Allen and nose tackle Pat Williams will spend much of the night trying to get into the head of new Packers starter Aaron Rodgers, who has the daunting task of taking over for Brett Favre.
INJURY IMPACT: QB Tarvaris Jackson has said the sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee that sidelined him for the final three preseason games won't keep him out of Monday's opener. Jackson's mobility might be questionable.
Even with the benefit of having a 10-day lull from the end of the preseason to not opening the season until Monday night, the reigning NFC North champion Packers come into the matchup against rival Minnesota a wounded team. Green Bay is expected to be without key cogs on both sides of the ball - center Scott Wells (back) and possibly linebacker A.J. Hawk (chest) - and also might be down a receiver as the Aaron Rodgers era at quarterback officially begins. James Jones, a contributor as the No. 3 wideout, hasn't fully recovered from a sprained knee he suffered two weeks ago. So, the Packers might have to tone down their penchant for spreading things out with four- and five-receiver formations.
Getting production out of the passing game, provided the short-handed line can keep Rodgers upright after struggling to protect him in the preseason, could be vital since there's no telling what the Packers will be able to do from a running standpoint. Ryan Grant didn't touch the football once in a preseason game - he missed the first three contests with a bad hamstring - and will get his first taste of contact since late January by trying to run clear of the formidable tackle duo of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.
Meanwhile, the Green Bay defense will have its work cut out trying to contain the electric Adrian Peterson out of the backfield. The Packers, minus run stuffer Ryan Pickett for the entire preseason, have been susceptible to giving up big runs by being lax in gap control and not wrapping up the ball carrier. At least Green Bay should be able to key on the run and load up the box as they dare Tarvaris Jackson to make something happen through the air.
INJURY IMPACT: C Scott Wells (back) and WLB A.J. Hawk (chest) are no better than questionable to be in the starting lineup for Monday night's season opener against Minnesota. Wells had another setback earlier this week with a strained muscle that has bothered him since the offseason. Jason Spitz, who started in Wells' absence for three of the four preseason games, would move from his starting spot at right guard to center should Wells be unavailable. Tony Moll would start at right guard. Hawk hasn't been on the field since suffering his injury in the preseason opener Aug. 11. He's making progress in his recovery, but the medical staff hasn't given him the green light for contact. Brandon Chillar would start for Hawk.