EAGAN, Minn. — The Border Battle is beginning a new chapter.
The Vikings and Packers will meet for the 126th time on Sunday when Minnesota (3-4) visits Green Bay (2-4) at noon (CT) Sunday.
Aside from injuries to Aaron Rodgers for one game in 2013 and another in 2017, this will be the first time since Dec. 27, 1992, that neither he nor Brett Favre will start for Green Bay against the Vikings.
Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell was 7, long snapper Andrew DePaola was 5, quarterback Kirk Cousins was 4, safety Harrison Smith was 3, tackle David Quessenberry was 2 and linebacker Jordan Hicks turned 6 months that day.
The Vikings intercepted Favre three times in his Border Battle debut, but he essentially ushered in Hall of Fame play by Packers quarterbacks over the next three-plus decades.
Green Bay transitioned to Jordan Love in full capacity this offseason, and he's now totaled seven starts and 16 games played.
The Vikings will wear their traditional road uniforms with white jerseys and purple pants.
- Quick turnaround with opportunity to build:The Vikings played their most complete game of 2023 on Monday to upset the heavily favored 49ers.
How will the team be able to build on that success on a prime stage in another important matchup? Minnesota opted for a walk-through on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after its Week 7 game, but the initial injury report only had four players on it, including tight end T.J. Hockenson, who is dealing with a foot injury.
Green Bay played Sunday and had an extra day to turn the page, but the Packers injury report included 10 players, not including DBs Darnell Savage and Eric Stokes, who were placed on Injured Reserve.
- Experience in close ones:*Although both Border Battles of 2022 were decided by multiple scores (with the teams splitting results), this could be a little closer. If so, the Vikings are well-versed.*
Minnesota has opened the season with seven consecutive games that have been decided by one score, which is the longest streak to start a season in franchise history and tied for the second longest streak at any point in a season (2021 featured a run of 12 games in a row).
Green Bay has had four such games, going 1-3 and dropping its past two by scores of 17-13 at Las Vegas and 19-17 at Denver.
- Cousins still at/near the top statistically: Although the Vikings played their second game of at least four without star receiver Justin Jefferson, Minnesota leaned heavily on Cousins and the passing game.
Cousins enters Week 8 leading the NFL in completions (193), attempts (280) and passing touchdowns (16). He ranks second in passing yards (2,057) and fourth in passer rating (101.8).
- Can Minnesota's defense keep rolling: It seems like the Vikings defense is finding its footing and building its identity, despite being so varied in its personnel groupings seven games into Brian Flores' tenure as defensive coordinator.
Minnesota leads the NFL in blitz rate at 56.8 percent, according to Next Gen Stats.
The Vikings aggressive play has helped limit three of Minnesota's past four opponents — all featuring young starting quarterbacks — to 17 or fewer points.
3 Things 'Bout the Packers
- They've started slowly: Green Bay has been slow out of the gate in games this season. The Packers have averaged a league-low 4.3 points in first halves this season. Green Bay, however, leads the league with an average of 17.3 points in second halves. Yards per game have jumped from 94.8 to 195.0 after halftime.
- An eye on Aaron Jones: Vikings fans know the difference that a healthy Jones has made in recent Border Battles. He has been dealing with a hamstring injury since Week 1 that has dramatically limited his time on the field. Jones returned in Week 7 and played 34.4 percent of Green Bay's offensive snaps. He finished with eight rushes for 35 yards and three catches for 22 yards at Denver. Love's passer rating with Jones on the field in 2023 is 108.0 but drops to 73.3 without the running back in the game.
- A pressure player: Packers edge defender Rashan Gary leads the team with 4.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits. According to Next Gen Stats, he's created a QB pressure percentage of 25.5, which ranks second in the NFL among players with 50 pass rushes this season.
Better ball security
After suffering 11 giveaways (seven fumbles lost and four interceptions) in Minnesota's first four games, the Vikings have committed three giveaways in the past three games. Conversely, the team is also taking the ball away at a better clip in its past three games. In Weeks 1-4, Minnesota totaled three takeaways, but from Weeks 5-7, the Vikings have recorded six takeaways.
Points at a premium
After busting out with 38 points in Week 1 at Chicago and 24 more at Atlanta in Week 2, the Packers have been limited to 18 or fewer in three of their past four games and a max of two touchdowns in each of those contests.
1 Talking Point
"I would think it's a combination of factors, never any one thing. I do think the longer I play in the system with the same coaches, the same play caller, I would think it's always going to help be more consistent. I think you have to have more players around you, and I think Kevin gives me a lot of opportunities, too. When you have 45 attempts a game, it's different than at Carolina where I had 18 attempts or something. That's also always going to change your production. But really, whatever it takes to win. I torment myself because I look at the production and say, 'It should be so much better' – with some of the red zone stuff we've left out there and some of these interceptions that have been unlucky, you're just like, 'This should be so much better than what it is.' So, I appreciate you saying it's good, because I look at it and am like, 'Gosh, it needs to be so much better.' So that's kind of the way it'll always be, I guess.
— Cousins on his production
Vikings defensive lineman Dean Lowry played for the Packers from 2016-22, and Packers linebacker Eric Wilson was with Minnesota from 2017-2020.
Minnesota Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine was Green Bay's defensive coordinator from 2018-20, and Tight Ends Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Brian Angelichio coached Packers tight ends from 2016-18.
College and Pro Connections
The Packers have a 65-57-3 record (1-1 in postseason) in Border Battles.