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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Outlines Keys to Vikings Victory vs. Packers

The wait is nearly over, as Border Battle No. 122 kicks off in roughly 48 hours from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota hosts Green Bay in Week 11, with both teams are looking to snag an important win.

The Vikings (4-5) are looking to get back to .500 and stay in the thick of the NFC playoff race. The Packers are 8-2 and trying to maintain their top spot in the conference.

So, how can the Vikings find a way to get a win Sunday at home? Chad Graff, Arif Hasan and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic recently looked at how Minnesota can get that done.

Graff wrote that the onus will be on the offense to put together a strong performance for the second week in a row.

Graff wrote:

The downfield passing works for a second straight week. [Kirk] Cousins hit Thielen and Jefferson on deep routes against the Chargers, which helped pick up some crucial third downs. If they can do that again, that will go a long way toward helping the Vikings keep pace with the Packers offense.

Graff also added that he'll be watching "how the Packers guard Justin Jefferson." He noted:

Jaire Alexander is one of maybe only two or three cornerbacks who you'd feel comfortable sticking against Jefferson without drastically altering your game plan. But Alexander remains out with a shoulder injury, so it'll be fascinating to see what the Packers do to prep for the Vikings star receiver. Jefferson's worst games a year ago came against the Packers, but he's coming into this one after his best performance this season, nabbing nine catches for 143 yards against the Chargers.

Hasan also believes the Vikings offense will be in the spotlight:

They can learn lessons from the past. In the Vikings losses, the Packers have dialed in on Minnesota's most obvious offensive tendencies and taken them away. The Vikings have been demolished by some of the Pack's better defensive game plans.

Krawczynski, meanwhile, will have his eye on the opposing offense.

He wrote:

Rodgers and the Green Bay offense look sluggish again in his second week back from the COVID-19-related absence and the interior of the Vikings offensive line does not get trucked by the Packers front seven.

As for the result of Sunday's game, Graff, Hasan and Krawczynski all predict that the final score will be decided by six or fewer points.

Graff was the only one of the three to predict a Minnesota win, going with a 24-23 Vikings victory.

The only thing that would make sense in this Vikings season that doesn't make sense is for them to nab a huge win that gets fans to buy all the way back in, only to fall flat the following week against the 49ers.

Kickoff is at noon (CT) Sunday from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Cousins lands at No. 10 in's QB rankings

Cousins played his best game in roughly a month last weekend to help the Vikings snap a two-game skid.

That performance helped the Vikings starting quarterback land at No. 10 in's weekly quarterback rankings.

Gregg Rosenthal, who compiled the list, wrote:

Just another professional game by Kirk Cousins, professional quarterback. As if directly responding to public and coaching criticism, Cousins held the ball longer against the Chargers in search of big plays and he found plenty. Justin Jefferson took over the game in part because Cousins trusted him. Cousins overcame a third-and-15 early, feathered in a fourth-down score under pressure, hit a beautiful third-and-6 to Jefferson and delivered on third-and-20 late to set up a game-icing run by Dalvin Cook. This is what the Vikings could look like with consistent belief — from the staff and Cousins himself.

Cousins threw for 294 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating of 109.5 was his best mark since a Week 6 win at Carolina.

Cousins has thrown for 2,434 yards with 18 touchdowns and two interceptions this season.

The opposing quarterback on Sunday — Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers — landed at No. 7 on Rosenthal's list.