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The Skinny Post: Vikings, Packers Renew Rivalry at Lambeau Field

EAGAN, Minn. — There's no love lost here.

The Vikings and Packers will renew one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL this Sunday at Lambeau Field in the 118th overall edition of the Border Battle. Kickoff is at noon (CT).

Minnesota is 54-60-3 all-time against Green Bay, including a split of two postseason games.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer lost his first three games against Green Bay, but he has turned the tide in a big way of late, as Minnesota is 5-1-1 in the past seven meetings.

Zimmer was asked this week how his mindset on the bi-annual games against Green Bay has changed since he arrived in Minnesota in 2014.

"When I first got here, this was a team you had to bet every time in order to get to the top of the division. I don't think that's changed any," Zimmer said. "I think I've had to learn throughout the six years or whatever how big that the fans treat this.

"We always pretty much approach it the same way," Zimmer added. "They're a really good football team and in order for us to do what we have to do, we have to beat them."

Minnesota's success has correlated with season success, as the Vikings have claimed two of the past four NFC North titles, with Green Bay and Chicago each claiming one.

Both Minnesota and Green Bay are 1-0 heading into Week 2.

Here are three areas to watch in Sunday's contest, plus some noteworthy stats on both teams:

Handle the moment | By @Eric_L_Smith

Count linebacker Eric Kendricks among the players who love playing at Lambeau Field.

"Man, it's awesome. I'm kind of a weirdo because I like going to the away games," Kendricks said. "It's kind of a hostile environment, and I like that moment. Home games are dope, too, don't get me wrong.

"But there's something about an away game when everybody hates you and you have to go in there and prove yourself," Kendricks said. "It makes you a competitor."

If the Vikings want to get a win in Green Bay — and make it three straight trips there without a loss — they will need to handle the environment Sunday.

Zimmer wants his team to be smart, tough and physical — traits that will certainly be needed for success in Green Bay. That includes minimizing penalties, making sure tackles, rushing Aaron Rodgers the correct way and avoiding a bunch of negative plays.

Although the Vikings rallied to a tie in Week 2 of the 2018 season, they can't afford mistakes such as a blocked punt and dropped passes that occurred a year ago.

Packers fans will certainly be hyped for this one, but the best recipe for success Sunday for the Vikings is simply to stay true to their roots and embrace the moment of playing on the road.

Vikings offense has yet to reveal all its cards | By @LindseyMNSports

Minnesota's Week 1 win was a unique one in which quarterback Kirk Cousins attempted just 10 passes.

A game that includes so little action through the air could test the patience of quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends looking to make plays. But Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski knows that every game will be different, and not every situation will dictate such an unbalanced ratio between the run and pass.

There also is the added benefit of Green Bay's defense having a very limited sample size of Minnesota's offensive playbook headed into Sunday's Border Battle.

Stefanski said he discussed exactly that with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on the sideline during the Falcons game.

"We talk about all the things on that call sheet that we can save and hold for another week," Stefanski explained. "Certainly, as a coach, you want to try all these things in a game. You'd love to have 100 plays and try all these fun things you've been practicing, but there is a level of trust in knowing that those plays are good and saved for another day."

Stefanski assured that the Vikings are ready for whatever type of play this weekend's game calls for.

"Those guys are chomping at the bit to play a meaningful part of this offense," he said.

Identification, communication key vs. pressure | By @pcraigers

The sample size was small but convincing for everyone who likes to draw long-lasting conclusions from Week 1 games.

Green Bay's defense, which has been overhauled from a personnel standpoint and invested in through free agency and high draft picks, shut down the Bears to open the NFL's 100th season on Sept. 5.

Zimmer and others have talked this week about how the Packers have improved on that side of the ball and will present numerous challenges for the Vikings offense. Coverage has improved, and so has the ability to bring pressure from multiple spots.

Green Bay sacked Mitch Trubisky five times, and his former teammate, safety Adrian Amos, intercepted him in the end zone. New rushers Preston and Za'Darius Smith combined for 2.5 of the Packers sacks. They'll have the benefit of crown noise as well.

"It's about identification and communication, really," Zimmer said Friday. "We've got to be on point with how we identify the fronts and then making sure we all communicate the same and that we're all on the same page."

Rookie center Garrett Bradbury is in line to make his second career start. Left guard Pat Elflein (knee) was listed as questionable for Sunday's game, but the Vikings have added experience to their interior, signing guards Josh Kline and Dakota Dozier in free agency and bringing back Brett Jones this week. Jones started at center last year at Green Bay when Elflein was on the mend.

Substantial Stats

— The Vikings ran the ball on 38 of 49 total offensive plays in their season opener. That run percentage of 77.55 ranked as the highest among all NFL teams in Week 1.

— Vikings safety Anthony Harris earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after he had his second-career multi-interception game in Week 1. Harris also recovered a fumble forced by Trae Waynes.

— Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have combined for five 100-yard receiving games against the Packers since 2016. Both Vikings wide receivers topped 100 yards (and scored at least one touchdown) in Week 2 at Lambeau Field in 2018.

— Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 11-8-1 in 20 career regular-season starts against the Vikings, posting a passer rating of 100.0 or better in 11 of those games.

Quotable

"I think it's a special rivalry, being that it is a Border Battle. It really has the feel of a college rivalry where it's very personal. You may have neighbors down the street who are Packers fans and vice versa. That makes it special. It reminds me of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry that was family against family, brother against brother. That certainly is the feel here, too."

— Cousins on the Border Battle rivalry

Top 10 moments

Vikings.com put together a list of the top 10 moments in the Vikings-Packers rivalry, which can be found here.

The 10 moments span almost the entirety of the rivalry, from Minnesota's first-ever win against Packers to the 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field in Week 2 of the 2018 season.

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