It's a special gift this Christmas Eve Day – Border Battle 113 as the Vikings have traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers in the regular season's penultimate week. With kickoff fast approaching, here are a few final thoughts on the matchup.
In the first meeting between these teams back in Week 2, the Vikings defense held Green Bay's offense to its season-low point total (14) and both Sam Bradford and Stefon Diggs were sharp. Bradford was 22 of 31 for 286 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 121.2. Diggs had nine catches on 11 targets for 182 yards and a touchdown. Encore performances from these members of the Vikings will go a long way toward the Vikings completing a season sweep of the Packers and attaining their eighth win of the season.
Smith's return would give Vikings defense a big lift
The Vikings defense is coming off an uncharacteristic performance. But one of the best players on that defense may return to the lineup this week and that would help the group return to its dominant form. Harrison Smith missed the past two games with an ankle injury but returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and was a full participant on Friday. The pattern looks promising for Smith to return today against Rodgers and Co.
New threat: RB Ty Montgomery
The last time these two teams met, Eddie Lacy was Green Bay's feature back. The Vikings held Lacy to 50 yards on 12 carries. Things are different now. The Vikings surrendered 161 rushing yards to the Colts last week, including 101 on 26 carries to Frank Gore, and Green Bay has resurrected its running game thanks to converted WR Ty Montgomery, who ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears last week. Defending Rodgers is always the top priority when playing the Packers, but that job because much more difficult when their running game is clicking.
Scoreboard watching revolves around Tampa Bay
The Vikings postseason chances took a big hit last week when they lost to Indianapolis. But the Vikings got so much help from other teams that their hopes remain alive entering Saturday's action. In order to stay alive for Week 17, the Vikings need a Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss (at New Orleans) along with a win over Green Bay.
Weather shouldn't be a factor
Weather was certainly a factor on Friday night as the Vikings arrived in Appleton, Wisc. on Saturday. But it shouldn't be nearly as much a factor in today's game. Temperatures should sit in the low-30s and there is no precipitation and low wins expected from noon-3:00pm CT in the area.