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The Skinny Post: It's Vikings-Packers In Regular-Season Opener of U.S. Bank Stadium

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It doesn't get much bigger than this.

An NFC North showdown with the Packers? Check.

A prime-time Border Battle with a national audience? Check.

The regular-season opener of U.S. Bank Stadium? Check.

This is a game the Vikings and their fans have had circled on their calendars for months.

The 112th all-time meeting between the teams, which includes two postseason contests, is on NBC's Sunday Night Football at 7:30 p.m. (CT).

Both teams won their openers on the road and will try to take an early lead in the division. And it's the first step for the Vikings to defend their NFC North title after claiming it in Week 17 at Lambeau Field last season.

Plus, there will be plenty of entertainment before the game and at halftime inside the 1.75-million-square foot venue.

On the airwaves: The game will be broadcast nationally by NBC (KARE NBC 11 in the Twin Cities). Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya will be on the call. The game also will be broadcast on KFAN 100.3-FM and across the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network by the team of Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, and Greg Coleman.

Three things to watch:

Crank up the volumeEric Smith

For all of its bells and whistles, what Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer wants opponents to remember about U.S. Bank Stadium is the crowd noise.

A loud and raucous crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium would bring back memories of the Metrodome, which was notorious for disrupting the communication of opposing offenses.

Zimmer knows his team will have to earn the boisterous support with strong play.

"I'd like it to be extremely loud [when the Vikings are on defense]," Zimmer said this offseason. "That's a chance for home-field advantage for us, so that's what I'm hoping for. We have to play good to make it loud. If we stink, then it won't be very loud."

And while there will be plenty of excitement when Minnesota has the ball, the Vikings offense won't mind if they can hear a pin drop as they try and score.

Special teams spotlightLindsey Young

Heading into Week 2 and their home opener with a win under their belts, the Vikings are sure to be charged up for their Sunday Night Football game against the Packers.

Cordarrelle Patterson, who had an NFL record 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Green Bay in 2013, will look to again make a splash after a 61-yard return at Tennessee last week. Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said being indoors could play a part in return opportunities, although the bigger factor will be Green Bay's strong kicker and punter.

"Mason Crosby's got a great kickoff leg. They've got a new, young punter (Jacob Schum) who has a big-time leg," Priefer said. "We've got to either pressure the punter and hopefully he kicks some line-drive punts to us […]. Of course, Mason normally doesn't give us opportunities, so we're going to have everything prepared and hopefully we get a couple chances."

(Don't) go crazyCraig Peters

Minnesota's touchdown celebration song, Prince's Let's Go Crazy, is fitting with the emotions of a Vikings score, but an important part in a game this big is doing just the opposite.

The Vikings struggled in the post-prime-time season-opener at San Francisco and in a national broadcast of their home game against the Packers last season, before closing 2015 with back-to-back wins on Sunday Night Football.

Minnesota's defensive line refined its approach to Zimmer's measured rush plan against Aaron Rodgers in the finale, played within the system and sacked him a total of five times, the same amount that they totaled in three previous games under Zimmer.

Substantial Stats

—Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has 8.0 career sacks against the Packers, the most sacks the defensive end has against one team. Griffen had 2.0 sacks and forced a fumble in the Vikings Week 17 win at Lambeau Field and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

—Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has made 13 of 14 career field goals against Green Bay, good for a 92.9 percent success rate. Walsh has converted 13 straight attempts against the Packers.

—The Vikings and Packers have combined to win seven division titles over the past eight seasons; Minnesota won the NFC North in 2008, 2009 and 2015.

—Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has played a full season's worth of regular-season games against the Packers. The Vikings all-time leading rusher has run for 1,760 yards and 13 touchdowns in 16 games vs. Green Bay.


"It's a great rivalry, close by with the fans and all that stuff. We can't get caught up in the rivalry, all we have to do is figure out who to block, when to block them, when to cover and all that stuff. I think it's great for the fans. We need to beat them a lot more often for it to be a rivalry." — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on Sunday's matchup.



Worth a watch

This **hype video** for *Sunday Night Football *is intense, but it's definitely worth a watch to get you ready for the game.

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