Vikings-Packers game plan

The hype is on Brett Favre, but that might not be the most important part of the matchups in the Monday night mania. It's an important one, but there are several as important or even more crucial. We delve into several of the top and intriguing ones.


The fact Brett Favre will be facing the Packers for the first time since his bitter divorce from the team in 2008 will put plenty of focus on the Vikings new quarterback.

But the reality is that this game very well might be won up front with the line play. The Vikings will be going against the 3-4 defense introduced by Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers for the first time so there will be no real familiarity from Minnesota's standpoint.

The Packers have been opportunistic on defense and will give Favre a variety of different looks in hopes of trying to confuse him. The focus for Minnesota must be on handing the ball to Adrian Peterson and relying on the Pro Bowl running back to wear down the Green Bay defense.

The Vikings are a run-first team and ultimately their success is going to come on the ground with Peterson running behind his blocker. If Favre throws too much there could be trouble.

The Vikings defense, meanwhile, will attempt to take advantage of the problems and uncertainty that has been an issue for the Packers offensive line this season.

Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams could pose huge problems for the inside of the Packers' line. If Pro Bowl right end Jared Allen winds up going against Green Bay's Chad Clifton, which appears unlikely, that could be to Allen's advantage considering Clifton is battling an ankle injury. But Allen hold an even bigger advantage against the Daryn Colledge.


The Packers defense will be under the gun in hostile enemy territory, on the big Monday night stage no less, and the heavier burden has little to do with the biggest story line of the early-season battle for first place in the NFC North. While defensive coordinator Dom Capers is ever mindful of the havoc former longtime Packers quarterback Brett Favre still can wreak just shy of his 40th birthday now in a Vikings uniform, the more pressing priority for Capers' unit is to do everything possible to keep running back Adrian Peterson from emerging as the star attraction. Peterson gashed the Packers for 192 rushing yards and a game-winning 29-yard touchdown run in the waning minutes when the teams met late last season, also at the Metrodome.

Green Bay has been run deficient in the early going this season, allowing an average of 128.7 yards per game. Capers, who is 0-6 against Favre as a head coach or defensive coordinator, might have to roll the dice and lean on the 3-5 front he debuted to mixed results in Sunday's win at the St. Louis Rams to try to keep Peterson hemmed in between the tackles. Of course, that could open things up for Favre to strong-arm single coverage in the vertical passing game.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy showed a commitment to the running game down the stretch Sunday, and Ryan Grant snapped out of his early-season doldrums with 64 yards in his final 13 carries. Getting Grant on track at the outset against the Vikings' imposing and talented front four would be a bonus to take the heat off a disjointed offensive line that has put quarterback Aaron Rodgers frequently in harm's way. Rodgers has been chucking the deep ball with regularity and some success this season, but he'll need the time on those five- and seven-step drops to get the ball out to playmakers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.

The ‘X' factor in the latest installment of a hotly contested rivalry in recent years could be the returners. The Packers' Will Blackmon had a punt return for a touchdown in both games last season. Vikings rookie Percy Harvin is a week removed from his dazzling 101-yard kickoff return for a score.


Vikings RT Phil Loadholt, who will be starting the fourth game of his rookie season, vs. Packers LOLB Aaron Kampman, who was moved from defensive end to linebacker in Green Bay's new 3-4 scheme. Loadholt has shown he has plenty of work to do when it comes to pass protection and Kampman will provide a challenge rushing from his new linebacker spot. The issue with Kampman is the Vikings' linemen aren't going to always know exactly where he's coming from and thus Loadholt is going to have to be on his toes to make sure the veteran is accounted for when he does rush.

Vikings LDE Ray Edwards, who is second on the team with 1.5 sacks, vs. Packers RT Allen Barbre, who has taken over for longtime starter Mark Tauscher. Barbre had a rough start to the season, giving up two sacks and a few other pressures to the Bears' Adewale Ogunleye. Edwards will try to apply an equal amount of pressure on Barbre and he should provide a tough matchup. Edwards has appeared more focused this season and although he did not have a sack last Sunday against San Francisco, he did finish with four quarterback hurries.

Packers CBs Charles Woodson, Al Harris and Tramon Williams vs. Vikings QB Brett Favre. For Green Bay's nickel trio of cover guys, going against a Favre-led offense on the football field will be nothing new. They were well-versed in trying to draw a bead on passes thrown by their onetime teammate in practice until the Packers traded an unretired Favre before the 2008 season to the New York Jets. Favre ultimately found his way to division rival Minnesota after retiring and unretiring again this year. Since the Vikings have the personnel to spread things out with multiple receivers to keep a defense honest as it homes in on stopping running back Adrian Peterson, the Packers could wind up in nickel often in this game. With only one interception, Favre is belying the reputation he cultivated during his 16-year tenure in Green Bay as a mistake-prone gunslinger. That could quickly change against a pick-happy Green Bay defense, which has a co-league-high seven interceptions, led by three from the wily Woodson.

Packers LT Chad Clifton or Daryn Colledge vs. Vikings RDE Jared Allen. Clifton hasn't been ruled out from returning to the lineup only two weeks after suffering a bad ankle sprain. He will try to practice later this week before a decision is made on his game status. Colledge, the normal left guard, would be Clifton's fill-in if the veteran can't give it a go Monday. Whoever is protecting Aaron Rodgers' back side faces a daunting challenge. Allen exacted payback on Clifton for shutting out the All-Pro speed rusher in the 2008 season opener by dominating Clifton when the teams met on the fast track at the Metrodome late in the season. Allen sacked Rodgers for a safety in the Vikings' one-point win. Rodgers was knocked down at least 12 times, including four sacks, by Minnesota in his worst performance since replacing the departed Favre last season. Colledge has struggled in pass protection after taking over for Clifton the last 1 1/2 games, so he doesn't engender much hope against Allen if Clifton can't make a speedy recovery.

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