In every NFL matchup, there are a seemingly endless amount of angles to analyze. It's hard to get to them all during the week of practice, and I'm sure there were some that slipped through the cracks despite all of the Vikings vs. Packers preview content we provided on vikings.com this week.
With kickoff fast approaching, here are a few final thoughts on today's Vikings-Packers contest.
How to Take in Today's Game Game Time: 12:00 p.m. CT TV:FOXRadio:Vikings Radio Network; KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130Mobile:NFL Mobile (exclusively on Verizon)
Vikings offense plays a role in slowing down Packers offenseAny time a team plays an offense as hot as Green Bay's, the talk is always about how its defense can slow down quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Co. That has been the case this week leading up to the second matchup between the Vikings and the Packers on the season after Green Bay put up 35 points of offense in the first meeting. But also keep in mind that the Vikings offense plays an important role in this aspect of the game, too.
In the first contest versus Green Bay, the Vikings offense did not drive into Green Bay territory until the 4th quarter, they did not generate a drive with more than two 1st downs until their sixth series and the punted or turned the ball over on every possession of the first half. This gave Green Bay short field position and also helped lead to a large deficit for the Vikings, both of which turned the game on its head as things got out of hand. The Vikings defense actually hung in there for a good chunk of the game, forcing Green Bay into four three-and-out series in five possessions after giving up two early touchdowns.
The Vikings offense had a similar problem of sustaining drives last week in Chicago. If the offense can rectify this problem and find a way to drive the ball down the field while sustaining drives, it will go a long way toward slowing down this explosive Packers offense.
More field position talk – Vikings punt teamSticking with the field position theme, an important aspect of today's game could be the Vikings punt team's performance. Obviously a team would like to punt as infrequently as possible, but when the time does come to punt it's important to execute well in order to play complementary football and help the defense out. Under Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer, the Vikings have had one of the best special teams groups in the NFL, and last week it was a special teams play that was perhaps the highlight of the game for the Vikings.
More fireworks on special teams would be a big boost for the Vikings this week.
Last week in Chicago, the Vikings net punt average was just 37.0 yards, a number that is understandable when kicking at Soldier Field but also a number that must be higher in order to put Green Bay's offense in less-than-ideal field position. That 37.0 net average would rank just 30th in the NFL.
Vikings P Jeff Locke has a lot of talent despite some uneven performances and both kickoff coverage and punt coverage was a point of focus for the Vikings heading into this season. Today would be a great time for both of those phases to have their best performances of the season.
Early execution key for Vikings offenseThe Packers have registered back-to-back 50-point performances and have won lopsided games of late. The Vikings must do a lot of things correctly to avoid this fate today, but perhaps the most important of those things is the offense executing with precision early in the game. This will allow the Vikings to sustain drives and keep the Packers offense off the field and it will eventually lead to points. Putting up points early will decrease the chances that Green Bay jumps out to an early lead and thus forces the Vikings offense to become one-dimensional while catching up.
None of this is rocket science or breaking news. But when looking at Green Bay's final scores and box scores recently, it's easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged. But it all comes down to how the Packers have gotten off to early leads and have forced opposing teams to deviate from their game plan – a game plan that may well have led to a victory had they not been forced to abandon it.