Border Battle No. 115 is tonight at Lambeau Field. It’s been a short but jam-packed week of preparation for both teams. Before long, the ball will be in the air and the season’s penultimate weekend begins for the Vikings.
Here are a few final thoughts from the week that was.
Green Bay will try to run the ball tonight
Every team wants to run the ball every week. But some teams are more reliant on that goal than others, and a lot of times it’s based on the play – or identity of – the quarterback. Perhaps the Packers are a great example. In games in which Aaron Rodgers has started in 2017, Green Bay is averaging 21.7 rushing attempts. In games in which Brett Hundley has started, Green Bay is averaging 26.1 rushing attempts. The Packers have the running backs to forge a productive ground game. Rookies Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have formed a productive tandem, with Williams logging a team-high 116 carries and scoring six total touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving) and Jones averaging 5.6 yards per carry with four rushing touchdowns.
Don’t forget to cheer for Dallas and New Orleans on Sunday
Vikings fans will spend Saturday night rooting for their team to defeat the Green Bay Packers for the fourth time in five games and then will turn their attention to Monday night’s Raiders-Eagles game to see if Philadelphia drops a game in the race for the No. 1 seed. If you’re of the scoreboard watching mentality, as I am, don’t forget to also root on the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Cowboys play Seattle this week but are the Eagles opponent next week. In order for the Vikings to earn the top seed in the NFC, Philadelphia must lose its last two games. The Cowboys keep their playoff hopes alive and stand a much better chance of winning in Week 17 if they win and the Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons this week. A Saints win also makes it tougher for Carolina to win the NFC South and have a shot to unseat the Vikings from the No. 2 seed.
Stat of the week
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Vikings wins in 100 Passer rating games – Season</span>
Brett Favre, 2009 9 (10; 9-1)
Case Keenum, 2017 7 (7; 7-0)
Randall Cunningham, 1998 7 (8; 7-1)
Think about that for a second. With two games to go, Keenum already has as many 100 passer rating games as Cunningham did on THE 1998 VIKINGS and can tie Favre’s mark from the best statistical season of his career.
Quote of the week
Reporter: When you came here, did you look at Adam Thielen and say that someday he looks like a Pro Bowl wide receiver?
Mike Zimmer: No, probably not. But I didn’t know his heart. Now I know his heart.
From undrafted tryout signing to Pro Bowl receiver, Adam Thielen’s journey is one for the storybooks and it’s ongoing. Where it leads next no one knows, but everyone will soon see. The best part about Thielen’s story is he’s the same kind of competitor and worker now as a Pro Bowler as he was on his first day of rookie/tryout camp back the spring of 2013.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Three threats</span><span style="text-decoration: underline;"></span>
Finding a sense of urgency – The Vikings are coming off a division-clinching win last week, they’ve spent all day in a hotel, they will be playing in ice-cold temperatures and they won’t be facing Aaron Rodgers. Those are all factors that could lead one to losing an edge or a sense of urgency. That is likely not a worry for this Vikings team, particularly given that finding a sense of urgency was a point of emphasis going into last week’s game against the Bengals.
Morgan Burnett – Green Bay opened the season playing Burnett everywhere on defense as part of their plan. Now they are lining up him everywhere out of necessity because injuries have ravaged the defense. Burnett lines up at nickel cornerback, on the second level with the linebackers and at his more traditional spot – safety. No matter where he lines up, he’s a threat and is one of the Packers best players on defense.
Clay Matthews – Green Bay’s two starting edge rushers – Matthews and Nick Perry – have combined for 14.5 sacks this season. Perry may not play, but Matthews is expected to be in the lineup and he is one to watch because of his ability to knife into the backfield to disrupt running plays and chase down quarterbacks for sacks.
How will Vikings do in -1 temperatures on Saturday night? -- Barb Svoboda
I don’t view the frigid temperature to be a disadvantage for the Vikings. The players and coaches live in this kind of environment back in Minnesota and they spent time this week practicing in the elements. Also, the Vikings style of play – physical defense and a vastly improved running game from a season ago – is conducive to cold-weather football.
If the Vikings win their last two games, will they get home-field advantage?
-- Bruce Blanton
Going 2-0 over the next two weeks will assure the Vikings of the No. 2 seed, which guarantees a home game in the divisional round. But going 2-0 does not guarantee the Vikings the No. 1 seed because they also need Philadelphia to go 0-2 in order for that to happen.
Just wanted to say congrats to the team, organization, owners, players and coaches! I was at the game on Sunday with my daughter. It was my third home game of the year, all wins! It was an electric game day, topped off by Teddy playing in his first game! I have been a Vikings fan for 50 years and bleed purple! Defense was fantastic. Great TEAM win! This team is special! You do an amazing job keeping us informed! Happy Holidays! Skol! -- Glenn Reightler Catasauqua, PA
Sounds like Glenn needs to clear his calendar for December 31 and the postseason. Skol!
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">National Television: NBC
</span>Play-by-play: Al Michaels
Analyst: Cris Collinsworth
Sideline: Michele Tafoya
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">National Radio:
</span>Play-by-play: Brandon Gaudin
Analyst: Ross Tucker
Sideline: Hub Arkush
<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Local Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130</span>
Play-by-play: Paul Allen
Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline: Greg Coleman, Ben Leber