Every Friday during the regular season, vikings.com will look at 3 matchups that will help determine the outcome of the Vikings upcoming game.
Vikings Secondary vs. WRs Donald Driver and Greg Jennings
Rodgers’ top targets are his starting WRs – Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. While it was Jennings who emerged last year with 1,292 receiving yards and 9 TDs, it’s Driver who has led the way this season. Driver currently ranks tied for 3rd among all NFL offensive players with 9 receptions of 20 yards. On top of that, Jennings averages 44.8 yards per 20 -yard reception.
Matching up against these explosive wideouts will be CBs
Expect the Vikings to match the Packers passing game in terms of scheme. Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is a proven defensive mind in the NFL and his ability to game plan even without his best CB was proven last week against the Steelers. Where the Vikings players must take things into their own hands is with tackling. Missed tackles have been an issue for the Vikings defense at times this season, and if the Vikings can shore up this area of their game they will be able to decrease the amount of big passing plays they allow.
It’s been discussed all week, but this feature wouldn’t be giving the readers justice if this matchup wasn’t addressed in this space. Both Favre and Rodgers put up good numbers in terms of yards and TDs in these teams’ Week 4 matchup – Favre threw for 271 yards and 3 TDs and Rodgers threw for 384 yards and 2 TDs. Where Favre outplayed Rodgers last time was in game management and decision making.
Favre was able to guide the Vikings offense to 30 points while also taking 0 sacks and throwing 0 INTs. In a game as closely contested as Vikings-Packers contests typically are, minimizing mistakes is crucial. Rodgers wasn’t able to do that – he threw 1 INT and also took 8 sacks, including 4.5 at the hands of DE
Favre is the Vikings offensive player who has received the most attention leading up to this game, but RB Adrian Peterson might be the key to success on Sunday. If the Vikings can get him going and he has 20 carries, then the Packers are in trouble. In the last matchup, however, Green Bay held Peterson to 55 yards rushing on 25 carries.
Green Bay’s 3-4 defense adds some complexity to the Vikings blocking assignments, but having played 5 games against 3-4 defense so far this year, the Vikings should be well aware of their rules and strategies. Key to the Packers ability to slow down Peterson and the Vikings ground game will be a defensive line rotation that includes Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett and rookie B.J. Raji, among others. Also important, of course, is the LB corps, a unit that includes Nick Barnett, Aaron Kampman and another rookie, Clay Matthews. It was Matthews who stripped Peterson of the ball and returned it for a TD the last time these teams met.
Even with his 55-yard output against Green Bay earlier this year, Peterson has been productive against the Packers over his career. The 2-time MVP has gained 452 yards and 2 TDs on 72 carries (6.3 avg.) in 4 career games against the Packers. His best game against Green Bay came in November of 2008, when he tallied 192 yards and a TD on 30 carries.