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Game Preview: Vikings at Packers

The Minnesota Vikings (11-3) will hit the road for their final away game of the 2017 slate and a division matchup with the Green Bay Packers (7-7). The Vikings captured the NFC North crown with a 34-7 victory over the Bengals in Week 15. The Packers are coming off a 31-24 road loss against the Carolina Panthers in Week 15. The NFC North division championship is the Vikings second in the past three seasons. The Vikings own a 5-2 road record, and the Packers hold a 4-3 mark at home in 2017. The Vikings 11-3 start is the best start through 14 games for Minnesota since starting 11-3 in 2009.

The Vikings offense, which ranks eighth in the NFL in yards per game (367.6), has been led by the consistent play from WR Adam Thielen, who is fifth in the NFL with 1,191 receiving yards and seventh in the NFL with 83 receptions. QB Case Keenum, who has completed 67.9 percent of his passes (second in NFL behind Drew Brees), has stepped in to start 12 games. He has posted a 9-3 record and totaled 20 touchdowns against seven interceptions while compiling a career-best 98.9 passer rating. RBs Jerick McKinnon*and Latavius Murray have filled the void left by rookie starter RB Dalvin Cook, *helping the Vikings RB group total 2,171 yards from scrimmage this season, the fourth-highest total among all RB groups in 2017.

The Vikings defense has held opponents to 283.9 yards per game (second in the NFL) and 17.3 points per game (second in the NFL). The Vikings defense has limited opponents to 85.3 rushing yards per game (second in the NFL) and 3.6 yards per rush (fifth in the NFL). Minnesota has stifled opponents to 215.8 passing yards per game, third in the NFL, making the Vikings the only defense in the NFL to rank in the top three in rushing yards per game and passing yards per game.

DE Everson Griffen is fourth in the NFL with a career high 13.0 sacks this season, the third time in his career he has reached double digits (12 in 2014, 10.5 in 2015). LB Eric Kendricks, who has led the Vikings in tackles each of his first two seasons, is leading the Vikings with 118 tackles (coaches' stats) and scored his second career touchdown last week with his second career interception-return touchdown.

NATIONAL TELEVISION: NBC

Play-by-Play:Al Michaels

Analyst: Cris Collinsworth

Sideline:Michele Tafoya 

NATIONAL RADIO: WESTWOOD ONE SPORTS

Play-by-Play:Brandon* *Gaudin

Analyst:Ross Tucker

Sideline:Hub Arkush

LOCAL RADIO: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen

Analyst: Pete Bercich

Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber

Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 10 a.m. (CT)

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolphhas proved throughout his career he is one of the top red zone weapons in the NFL and 2017 has been no different. Rudolph ranks tied for third in red zone receptions (14) and tied for fourth in red zone touchdowns (seven).

Red Zone Receptions - 2017 NFL

Rk) Player, Pos, Team    RZ Rec./RZ TDs

1t) Davante Adams, WR, G.B.    15/7

1t) Jarvis Landry, WR, Mia    15/8

3t) Kyle Rudolph, TE, Min    14/7

3t) Jimmy Graham, TE, Sea    14/9

Vikings–Packers Connections

Vikings HC Mike Zimmer was the defensive coordinator and Vikings assistant DBs Coach Jonathan Gannon*was a defensive assistant in Atlanta while Packers secondary/CBs Coach Joe Whitt, Jr., held the same position *with the Falcons during the 2007 season.

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

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards* *and Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers were on the Dolphins defensive coaching staff in 2006-07.

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 Director of Player Personnel Brian Gutekunst's father, John, was the head coach for the University

COLLEGE CONNECTIONS

There are six players from UCLA on the Packers and Vikings rosters: Vikings K Kai Forbath*(2006-10), LS Kevin McDermott (2008-12), LB Eric Kendricks (2010-14), LB Anthony Barr (2010-13) and Packers DT Kenny Clark *(2013-15) and QB Brett Hundley (2011-14).

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 was there from 2013-16.

Packers LB Jake Ryan*(2010-14), FB Joe Kerridge (2012-15) and Vikings LB Ben Gedeon (2013-16) *played at Michigan together.

Packers P Justin Vogel*(2014-16) and Vikings WR Stacy Coley (2013-16) and G Danny Isidora *(2013-16) were teammates at the University of Miami.

BIG DAYS

WR Adam Thielen* *had 12 catches for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns at Green Bay (12/24/16), the fourth-most yards ever by a Viking in a regular-season game and the most by a Viking against Green Bay.

S Harrison Smith had one of the best games of this career in the last matchup vs Green Bay (10/15/17). Smith totaled 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, two passes defended, two quarterback hits and a diving one-handed interception.

TE Kyle Rudolph had one of his two career 100-yard receiving games vs. Green Bay (11/22/15), 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 12/30/12. 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 (1/3/16) of the 2015 season, Griffen totaled 2.0 sacks and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.                 

Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon* *totaled 99 scrimmage yards (69 rushing and 30 receiving) and scored 2 touchdowns (27-yard reception and 3-yard run) in the last contest vs. Green Bay (10/15/17).

Vikings CB Terence Newman had a season-high six tackles, one interception and returned a fumble 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown vs. Green Bay (9/22/13) as a member of the Bengals.

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs* *had a career day vs. Green Bay (9/18/16), grabbing nine receptions for a career-best 182 yards and a touchdown.

Stefon Diggs: 4 games, 20 receptions, 285 yards, 2 TDs

Everson Griffen: 16 games, 40 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 14 TFL, 2 FFs

Danielle Hunter: 5 games, 16 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 FF

Jerick McKinnon: 7 games, 54 rushes, 214 rush yards, 1 TD, 22 rec., 143 yards, 1 TD

Terence Newman: 11 games, 51 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 INTs, 5 PD, 1 FR TD

Xavier Rhodes: 8 games, 32 tackles, 2 INT, 9 PD

Brian Robison: 22 games, 40 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 8 TFL, 3 FFs

Kyle Rudolph: 12 games, 41 receptions, 488 yards, 3 TDs

Harrison Smith: 10 games, 64 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 6 PD, 5 TFL

Adam Thielen: 7 games, 30 receptions, 412 yards, 2 TDs, 3 rushes, 71 yards

SERIES INFO

Record vs. Packers:Vikings 52-60-2

Last regular season game:Vikings 23, Packers 10 (2017)

Vikings largest winning margin:35; Vikings 42, Packers 7 (1986)

Packers largest winning margin:38; Packers 45, Vikings 7 (2011)

Current series streak: Vikings 1

Vikings longest win streak:7 (1975-78)

Packers longest win streak:6 (1961-63)

Most Points, Vikings:42 (1986)

Most Points, Packers:48 (1962)

Most Combined Points: 75, Packers 44, Vikings 31 (2013)

Fewest Points, Vikings:0 (2007)

Fewest Points, Packers:0 (1971)

Fewest Combined Points: 3; Vikings 3, Packers 0 (1971)

SERIES NOTES

The Vikings and Packers have played 114 times overall with Green Bay holding a 60-52-2 series record.

The Packers are the Vikings most-common opponent in franchise history (114 games), including two playoff games — 2004 Wild Card game (a 31-17 Vikings win) and 2012 Wild Card game (a 24-10 Packers win) — that were both played at Lambeau Field.

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

A WIN WOULD...

Give the Vikings the season sweep over the Packers for the first time since 2009.

Be the best start to a season through 15 games since Mike Zimmer took over in 2014 and the best start for the franchise since starting 14-1 in 1998.

Move Zimmer's record as a head coach to 38-25 in regular season games and give him his first season sweep over the Packers and his fourth win overall vs. Green Bay in eight contests.

Would give the Vikings a 6-2 mark on the road in 2016, the best road record for the Vikings since 1998 (7-1).

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