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Game Preview: Vikings at Packers

The Minnesota Vikings (1-0) hit the road for the first time in 2018 for a NFC North contest at Green Bay (1-0). The game, scheduled to kick off at noon (CT) at Lambeau Field, is the second straight divisional home game for the Packers to begin the regular season.

In 2017, the Vikings swept the season series against the Packers for the first time since 2009, including a 16-0 win at Lambeau (Dec. 23, 2017), Minnesota's first shutout since Dec. 5, 1993 (at Detroit) and second all-time against the Packers (11/14/71 vs. GB, 3-0).

Free-agent signing DT Sheldon Richardson and 2018 first-round pick CB Mike Hughes each made successful debuts with the Vikings during kickoff weekend. Richardson tallied six tackles, one-half sack and three QB hits while Hughes had three tackles, three PBUs and an interception returned 28 yards for a touchdown, becoming the first Vikings rookie to return an INT for a TD since S Harrison Smith in 2012. The Vikings defense, which led the NFL in 2017 in yards per game allowed (275.9) for the first time since 1993 and also led the league by allowing 15.8 points per game last season, held 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a 45.1 passer rating, the third-lowest rating among all starting QBs in Week 1. Smith, who was named Associated Press First-Team All Pro last season, led the Vikings in tackles (eight) and added 1.0 sack, 2 TFL and a game-clinching INT late in the fourth quarter.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-36 passing (95.1 rating) and ran four times for 26 yards in his first game with the team. RB Dalvin Cook totaled 95 yards from scrimmage (55 receiving, 40 rushing) in his first game back from a knee injury that ended his 2017 season after just four games. Cook recorded a career-best six receptions in Week 1, tying WR Adam Thielen for the team lead. Thielen, who had 102 receiving yards, surpassed the 100-yard mark for the eighth time in his career. TE Kyle Rudolph and WR Stefon Diggs, who tied for the team lead with eight receiving touchdowns in 2017, each hauled in a touchdown vs. San Francisco in Week 1.

NATIONAL TV BROADCAST

FOX (FOX 9 in Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Play-by-Play: Kevin Burkhardt

Analyst: Charles Davis

Sideline Reporters: Pam Oliver

NATIONAL RADIO

Sports USA

Play-by-play: Larry Kahn

Analyst: Mark Carrier

LOCAL RADIO

KFAN 100.3-FM/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber

Radio Pre-game Show: Mike Mussman | 10 a.m. (CT) 

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 63-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.

NORSE NOTES

Since the start of the 2016 season, CB Xavier Rhodes has eight interceptions, tied for the fourth-most among all CBs in the NFL in that span, trailing only Darius Slay (10), Casey Hayward (11) and Marcus Peters (12).

WR Adam Thielen converted a first down on all six of his receptions vs. San Francisco, tying him for the fourth-most in the NFL after Week 1. In 2017, Thielen ranked eighth in the NFL with 59 receptions resulting in first downs. 

In Week 1 vs. San Francisco, TE Kyle Rudolph caught his 16th touchdown pass since the start of the 2016 season, which is tied with Packers TE Jimmy Graham for the most in the NFL among all TEs in that span.

S Harrison Smith is the only player in the NFL to record at least six interceptions and 2.0 sacks since the start of last season. Smith had a sack, two TFL, an interception and a fumble recovery in Week 1, making him the second player league-wide since the start of 2015 to record at least a sack, one TFL, an interception and a fumble recovery in the same game (Redskins DE Preston Smith vs. Arizona on Dec. 17, 2017).

In his past four September games, QB Kirk Cousins has thrown for 1,028 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception, totaling a 102.6 passer rating and has posted a 3-1 record.

The Vikings defense forced four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble recovery) in Week 1, third in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns forced six (3 INT, 3 FR), and the New York Jets recorded five interceptions of Matthew Stafford.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Vikings S Harrison Smith recorded his 18th career interception and 10th career sack in Week 1 vs. San Francisco. Smith is the only Viking in the history of the franchise to have at least 18 career interceptions and at least 10 career sacks.

VIKINGS-PACKERS CONNECTIONS

Vikings HC Mike Zimmer was the Defensive Coordinator in Atlanta while Packers Defense - Pass Game Coordinator Joe Whitt, Jr., coached the DBs for the Falcons during the 2007 season.

Packers Executive VP/Director of Football Operations Russ Ball was the Vikings Senior Football Administrator from 1999-2000.

Green Bay Packers Communications Manager Tom Fanning graduated from University of Minnesota in 1998 and worked for the Minnesota Vikings from 1999-2008.

Packers Personnel Executive Lee Gissendaner spent parts of the 1996 season on the Vikings practice squad as a WR.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer graduated from Abbot Pennings High School in DePere, Wisconsin, while his dad coached for the Packers.

Vikings CB Trae Waynes grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and graduated from Mary D Bradford HS.

Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst’s father, John, was the head coach for the University of Minnesota from 1985-91.

Packers WRs Coach David Raih is a native of Edina, Minnesota, and attended St. Thomas Academy in Saint Paul.

Packers College Scout Joe Hueber is a St. Louis Park, Minnesota, native and is graduate of the University of Minnesota where he also assisted the football program while earning his degree.

Vikings G Bryan Witzmann went to Somerset HS in Somerset, Wisconsin.

COLLEGE CONNECTIONS

There are five players from UCLA on the Packers and Vikings rosters: LS Kevin McDermott (2008-12), LB Eric Kendricks (2010-14), LB Anthony Barr (2010-13) and Packers DT Kenny Clark (2013-15), TE Marcedes Lewis (2002-05).

USC has three players represented on the Vikings and Packers rosters: Vikings DE Everson Griffen (2007-09) and Packers LBs Clay Matthews (2005-08) and Nick Perry (2008-11).

Packers C Corey Linsley and Vikings C Pat Elflein each played at Ohio State. Linsley was at Ohio State from 2009-13 and Elflein from 2013-16.

Sunday's game will feature five former Iowa Hawkeyes on the Vikings and Packers rosters: Vikings DT Jaleel Johnson (2012-16), Vikings T Riley Reiff (2008-11), Packers T Bryan Bulaga (2007-09), Packers DT Mike Daniels (2007-11) and Packers CB Josh Jackson (2014-17).

VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. PACKERS

Stefon Diggs: 5 games, 25 receptions, 345 yards, 3 TDs

Everson Griffen: 16 games, 41 tackles, 11 sacks, 14 TFL, 2 FFs

Danielle Hunter: 6 games, 20 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF

Kirk Cousins: 2 games, 50-of-76 passing, 704 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 113.0 passer rating, 1 rush TD

Xavier Rhodes: 9 games, 37 tackles, 2 INT, 9 PD

Kyle Rudolph: 13 games, 42 receptions, 494 yards, 3 TDs

Harrison Smith: 11 games, 72 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 5 INTs, 8 PD, 6 TFL

Adam Thielen: 8 games, 32 receptions, 436 yards, 2 TDs, 3 rushes for 71 yards

VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. PACKERS

QB Kirk Cousins had the fifth-highest output of passing yards of his career vs. Green Bay (Nov. 20, 2016) when throwing for 375 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on 21-of-30 passing. Cousins' 145.8 passer rating helped lead the Redskins to a 42-24 victory over the Packers and earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

WR Adam Thielen had 12 catches for 202 yards and two touchdowns at Green Bay (Dec. 24, 2016), the fourth-most yards ever by a Viking in a single game and highest ever by a Viking against Green Bay.

S Harrison Smith had two of the best games of this career in last season vs Green Bay. Smith totaled five tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, two PBUs, two QB hits and a diving one-handed interception vs. Green Bay (Oct. 15, 2017). In the second meeting last season, Smith helped power the defense to a shutout victory by grabbing a career-high two interceptions at Green Bay (Dec. 23, 2017).

TE Kyle Rudolph had one of his two career 100-yard receiving games vs. Green Bay (Nov. 22, 2015), hauling in six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

DE Everson Griffen recorded a career-high 3.0 sacks against the Packers in the final game of the 2012 regular season on Dec. 30, 2012. Griffen posted one sack a week later against the Packers in the 2012 NFC Wild Card game. In the NFC North-clinching victory in Week 17 (Jan. 3, 2016) of the 2015 season, Griffen totaled 2.0 sacks and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.        

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs had a career day vs. Green Bay (Sept. 18, 2016), grabbing nine receptions for a career-best 182 yards and one touchdown. Diggs was awarded the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.

VIKINGS-PACKERS SERIES NOTES

The Vikings and Packers have played 115 times overall with Green Bay holding a 60-53-2 series record. The Packers are the Vikings most-frequent opponent in franchise history. The series includes two playoff games — a 2004 Wild Card game that the Vikings won 31-17 and a 2012 Wild Card game that the Packers won 24-10. Both games were played at Lambeau.

The Vikings and Packers have played in five overtime games all-time, with the Vikings holding a 3-1-1 advantage in those games.

In games played in September, the Vikings hold an 11-6 advantage over the Packers all-time.

Sunday's matchup (Sept. 16) marks the earliest in which the Vikings played at Green Bay since opening the 2008 season at Green Bay on Monday Night Football (Sept. 8).

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