Sunday's game will be the 116th matchup between the Vikings and Packers. Mike McCarthy has patrolled the sidelines for 25 of those games and Mike Zimmer will face Green Bay for the ninth time as Vikings head coach. Several Vikings veterans have a lot of experience against Green Bay, including 16 games for Everson Griffen, 13 for Kyle Rudolph and 11 for Harrison Smith.
Suffice it to say, these two teams know each other like brothers. But this contest has an added wrinkle because of the knee injury Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is managing.
Technically, Rodgers is questionable for the game after not practicing during the week because of that knee injury. From a practical standpoint, though, it's presumed Rodgers will suit up and be ready to go.
How ready to go is he? How much of his tricky mobility will be at his disposal? Will Green Bay alter its modus operandi to suit Rodgers' capability? And will the Vikings alter their plan of attack in anticipation of an alternative version of #12? Does a limited Rodgers mean more pressures or less pressures called by Zimmer? Will Vikings pass rushers pin their ears back or will they look to confine Rodgers to the pocket?
These are all questions with answers neither team knows as of now. There will be a feeling out process on Sunday morning during warms ups and then in the early stages of the game. This ambiguity has added a dash of unpredictability to this very familiar rivalry.
How will it all play out? No one knows for sure, but everyone can't wait to find out.
Zimmer, defensive staff tinkering with defensive line rotation
Last season may not have been enough. Last week it might have been a little too much. The rotation along the defensive line is always under evaluation by the Vikings defensive coaching staff. Our own Craig Peters wrote an article this week detailing the topic. The piece is definitely worth a read because it gives a glimpse into the thinking of the coaching staff as they try to balance playing the four best linemen with making sure everyone stays fresh for late in games and late in the season.
"I think he flies at a little bit of a different altitude than I do." – Kirk Cousins on Aaron Rodgers
The Vikings quarterback praised his counterpart in Green Bay following a masterful second half performance against Chicago while coming back from an injury he sustained in the first half. Cousins, who has been in the League half the amount of time as Rodgers, went on to explain that Rodgers has already accomplished many of the things he hopes to accomplish.
"I tell him when I see guys like him or himself, I just say, 'I study you. I study you and watch your film and try to learn from you because you are a guy that I want to study and want to learn from.'"
After hearing about our explosive running game during the preseason, we seemed to struggle at times against the 49ers. Do you expect this to improve in Green Bay?
Put simply – yes. It's fair to expect improvement from the running game now that the offensive line has a game under its belt. Remember, this group is still learning to play together since starting left guard Nick Easton was lost in training camp and current starting center Brent Jones joined the team 10 days before the season began. Now, Green Bay has Mike Daniels and Muhammad Wilkerson, so it's not going to be easy by any stretch. It could be argued that it's not as heavy a lift to go against the Packers run defense as it is to go against the 49ers run defense. Green Bay surrendered 5.1 yards per carry to Chicago last week, and four of the Bears 10 longest plays were runs. It will be important for the Vikings to move the ball on the ground to help neutralize the Packers pass rush as well as the crowd noise.
Stat of the Week
Harrison Smith recorded his 18th career interception and 10th career sack last week against San Francisco, becoming the ONLY Viking in the history of the franchise to reach both milestones.
Paul Krause, who also wore jersey No. 22, is still the NFL's all-time leader in interceptions with 81. He played 12 seasons for the Vikings and four more for the Redskins, earning eight Pro Bowl nods and three First-Team All-Pro honors in that span. Educated minds can disagree on who the best safety in Vikings history is, but one thing is certain – whoever it is definitely wore #22.
The video speaks for itself, so there isn't much to add here. If Cousins is given that much time or can find a way to buy that much time and then Diggs is going to run routes like that, it's unstoppable.
National TV: FOX
Play-by-Play: Kevin Burkhardt
Analyst: Charles Davis
Sideline: Pam Oliver
National Radio: Sports USA
Play-by-Play: Larry Kahn
Analyst: Mark Carrier
Local Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline: Greg Coleman, Ben Leber
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 10:00 am CT