With kickoff fast-approaching, here are a few final thoughts about tonight's game.
How to Take in Tonight's Game
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
Radio: Vikings Radio Network; KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130
Mobile: NFL Mobile (exclusively on Verizon)
Running backs in the passing game
**With Adrian Peterson either chasing or already in possession of his third career rushing title, a lot of attention will be on the Vikings rushing attack and another game in which Peterson will challenge the Packers run defense. But after the Arizona Cardinals completed 5 passes to RBs for 97 yards, it might be the passing game where Peterson and fellow RB Jerick McKinnon can do the most damage. Green Bay missed several tackles last week in allowing 97 receiving yards to RBs, the second-most they had allowed to RBs all season.
The "Wright" timing for TD #1
For as clutch as Jarius Wright has been for the Vikings on 3rd down this season, it's unusual that he's played 15 games without finding the end zone. Wright has 32 receptions for 421 yards, and in the month of December he had 13 receptions with nine of them good for 1st downs and four of those nine coming on 3rd down. Adding a TD to his season-long box score would go a long way toward adding another division title to the Vikings credentials.
Keeping Matthews as a non-"Claymaker"
Packers LB Clay Matthews makes so many big plays for his defense that he's earned the nickname "Claymaker" over the course of his career. Matthews has made many a big play against the Vikings over the years. Lately, though, Matthews' hard work hasn't shown up in the box score. He has just 1.0 sack in the last 10 games and he has no sacks against the Vikings since Week 12 of 2013 season. Continuing this trend would help the Vikings capture a win tonight. Matthews plays all over the field – as an inside LB in the base defense and then as an edge rusher often times in passing situations. That means it's not incumbent on just one player to neutralize Matthews – it'll be a team effort for the entire offense.
Injury report modifications are good news for Packers
View images of the key contributors on the Green Bay Packers (10-5) before Sunday night's game against the Vikings for the NFC North division title.
**On Saturday, the Packers modified their injury report. The modifications are mostly good news for Green Bay. DT BJ Raji (concussion) and LB Mike Neal (hip) were both upgraded to probable, meaning it's a virtual certainty they will suit up. The bad news is CB Sam Shields (concussion) has been downgraded to doubtful. Having Raji in the game will be a big boost to a Packers defensive front that will look to bottle up Peterson once again after allowed just 45 yards to the NFL's leading rusher in the last meeting.
Reducing penalties a key for Vikings
A big reason Green Bay was able to hold Peterson to just 45 yards rushing was the Vikings committed penalties on offense early in the game that put them behind schedule in the down and distance, which then forced the hand of offensive coordinator Norv Turner a bit because he felt compelled to throw the ball to get back on schedule and to try and catch Green Bay on the scoreboard. In the end, Peterson finished the game with just 13 carries and the Vikings as a team had just 18 rushing attempts. The Vikings were penalized 8 times for 110 yards in that Week 11 game, with all three phases of the team guilty of infractions that set the team back. Expect that area of performance to be cleaned up significantly for the Vikings tonight.
Impact of game on 2016 schedule
**Tonight's game has obvious implications on the Vikings schedule for next week. A win means they'll host the Seattle Seahawks. A loss means they will either return to Green Bay (if Seattle defeats Arizona) or travel to Washington (if Arizona defeats Seattle). But tonight's game also has implications on the 2016 schedule. The winner of the NFC North this season will play the winners of the NFC South (Carolina) and NFC West (Arizona), while the team who loses tonight and finishes in 2nd place in the NFC North will play the 2nd place teams from the NFC South (Atlanta) and NFC West (Seattle).
It's going to be cold for tonight's game and that will cause both sides to make certain adjustments compared to playing in a warm climate or to playing indoors. But aside from those normal adjustments, weather shouldn't be a factor in the game. Temperatures are expected to be around 20 degrees at kickoff with winds at 10 miles per hour and just a 20% chance of snow.