Part 2 of the 2018 installment of the Vikings-Packers rivalry is set for this Sunday night at U.S. Bank Stadium. Each team enters the game coming off a loss and is eager to get back on the winning track with only six games to go in the regular season. Here are five storylines to watch this week in anticipation of Vikings vs. Packers.
1. Time to settle the score
Four quarters plus a 10-minute overtime period was not enough to settle the score between these two teams back in Week 2. Sunday night's game should be more decisive, and if it is then one team will have a leg up on the other in any sort of tie-breaking scenario when it comes to the postseason qualification.
2. Vikings will face same offense with a new wrinkle
Going against an Aaron Rodgers-led offense is old hat for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings. But there is a new wrinkle in this matchup. Green Bay has had success using second-year running back Aaron Jones of late and they figure to stick with the University of Texas-El Paso product this week. Jones, who did not play in the Week 2 matchup because of a suspension, managed only 16 carries for 62 yards (3.9/attempt) in two games last year. In 2018, though, Jones is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and he's scored six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving).
3. Barr plans to return Sunday night
Linebacker Anthony Barr has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, but he plans to play on Sunday night against Green Bay. Barr's status for the game will be of note partially because it was his hit on Aaron Rodgers in Week 6 that knocked the Green Bay quarterback out for seven games. From a practical standpoint, though, Barr's return is noteworthy because he's an important component to what the Vikings do schematically. Eric Wilson has taken the bulk of the reps in Barr's stead and has played well, according to Zimmer, but there's no question Barr's return will be a boost to the Vikings defense.
4. Containing the quarterback's mobility – Take 2
Mitchell Trubisky's mobility was a factor last week against the Vikings defense. The second-year signal caller ran 10 times for 43 yards and was sacked just once. The Vikings face another slippery quarterback this week in Aaron Rodgers. While Trubisky is more of a threat as a runner past the line of scrimmage, Rodgers is perhaps as good as there's ever been at escaping the pocket, buying his receivers time to get open and then throwing to those receivers while on the run. Developing and executing a disciplined rush plan will be essential for the Vikings as they go up against Rodgers and Co.
5. Only one team can keep pace with/make up ground on Chicago
On Thursday, both the Vikings and Packers will continue preparations for their game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. Meanwhile, the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears will be in Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Lions. Depending on the outcome of that game, the Vikings and Packers will have an opportunity to make up some ground on the division leaders or they'll have to try to keep with the division leaders. Only one team can get it done, and the team that doesn't will fall yet another game behind Chicago.