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Vikings vs. Packers: 5 Storylines To Watch

Posted Nov 20, 2013

The Vikings and Green Bay Packers will renew their rivalry this Sunday at Lambeau Field, playing one another for the 106th time in series history and the second time this season. The Vikings have played Green Bay more than any other opponent, and they will try to avenge a Week 8 defeat to their border rivals by winning in Lambeau Field for the first time since 2009.

There were plenty of fireworks in the earlier matchup between these two teams, with Cordarrelle Patterson returning the opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown by Green Bay recovering well enough to earn a 44-31 victory in what was the highest-scoring game between these two franchises in their history together.

Let’s take a look at five storylines to watch this week as the Vikings and Packers prepare to battle…

 

Vikings

Both teams look for answers at quarterback
It wasn’t that long ago when this Vikings-Packers matchup featured Brett Favre under center for the Purple squaring off against Aaron Rodgers as he was establishing himself as one of the best players in the NFL. The situation is different this week, though, as the Vikings are looking for someone to take hold of their quarterback job and the Packers are trying to stay alive in the NFC North while Rodgers recovers from injury.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has not confirmed who will start at quarterback this Sunday. Christian Ponder played well in consecutive games versus Dallas and Washington and had a solid performance going through three quarters last week in Seattle, but then two costly interceptions moved the Vikings to replace Ponder with Matt Cassel. Josh Freeman is also in the fold, and he hasn’t played since he started the Vikings Monday Night Football game in New York on October 21.

The Packers lost Rodgers on their first series against the Chicago Bears back on November 4. Up until that point, Rodgers was completing 66.9% of his passes, had a 15-4 touchdown-interception ratio and his passer rating was 108.0. Since then, the Packers have started both Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzein. Those two have combined for a 65.9% completion rate, a 1-6 touchdown-interception ratio and a passer rating of 67.2. Most importantly, the Packers had won five games with Rodgers at the helm and since he’s been on the mend Green Bay has gone 0-3.

Vikings

Jennings makes his return to Lambeau Field
Greg Jennings signing with and playing for his former team’s rival is a tired storyline by now with the season 12 weeks old. But the storyline gets dusted off, refreshed and relevant this week because the eight-year vet and two-time Pro Bowler will return to Lambeau Field for the first time as a member of the Vikings. This will remind Vikings fans of other Lambeau homecomings, such as the one Favre made back in 2009 when he torched the Packers defense for 244 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 38-26 victory.

In recent weeks, the Packers have given up big days to wide receivers. Riley Cooper went for 102 yards and two touchdowns, Brandon Marshall got Green Bay for seven catches, 107 yards and a score, and Victory Cruz hauled in eight grabs for 110 yards. You can be sure Jennings is itching for a similarly big day after just one catch on three targets against his former team in their first meeting.

Peterson set to reach milestone
Adrian Peterson is set to appear in his 100th career game this week. He’s gotten quite a bit accomplished in the first 100 games of his career. He’s won a MVP award, he’s led the League in rushing twice, and he’s rewritten the Vikings and NFL record books in a number of other categories, as well. As it stands now through 100 games, Peterson will rank third in NFL history in yards per game (98.0) behind Jim Brown (104.3) and Barry Sanders (99.8).

Vikings

Vikings youngsters will get more playing time
Given where the Vikings stand record-wise and given the high number of injuries that have hit the roster, expect plenty of young Vikings to see more playing time this week in Green Bay and for the duration of the season. Starting cornerback Josh Robinson is out indefinitely with a chest injury, which means Xavier Rhodes will likely get the start on Sunday and Marcus Sherels will also see more playing time. Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson continues to see his snaps increase and there’s no reason to expect that will change going forward, Sharrif Floyd could get more work at three technique if Kevin Williams plays more nose tackle, Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo will get work at safety with Harrison Smith still sidelined, etc.

Packers banged up, too
Green Bay is another team that has encountered more than its fair share of injuries. We’ve already mentioned that Rodgers will not play, but other prominent Packers who’ve dealt with injuries this season include receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, tight end Jermichael Finley, linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Sam Shields, and offensive lineman Don Barclay.

It’ll be interesting to see how/if Hayward and Shield practice this week. Their absence from the game would be a boost to a Vikings passing attack that needs to get off the ground to open a few lanes for the rushing attack.