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

EAGAN, Minn. — One of football's best rivalries is ready for another chapter.

The Vikings and Packers will meet in Week 2 of the 2018 season on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Kickoff is at noon (CT).

This will be the 116th overall meeting between the Vikings and Packers, which is the most games against one opponent in Minnesota's franchise history. Minnesota is 53-60-2 all-time against Green Bay. The Vikings are 52-59-2 in the regular season against their heated rivals from the NFC North. Each team has a playoff win.

Both teams enter at 1-0 after getting season-opening wins, but this won't be easy for the Vikings.

Green Bay has won 12 consecutive home games in September at Lambeau Field. The Packers last loss came against the 49ers in the 2012 season opener.

The Vikings last played a September game in Green Bay 10 years ago, when Minnesota fell 24-19 in the 2008 season opener. No current members of the Vikings were on Minnesota's roster back then.

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

Watching the line | By @Eric_L_Smith

If the Vikings start the same offensive line as they did in Week 1, Minnesota will go with, from left to right, Riley Reiff, Tom Compton, Brett Jones, Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill.

Vikings center Pat Elflein has been limited in practice all week and is listed as "out" for Sunday's game in Green Bay. The Vikings also signed Bryan Witzmann earlier this week after Aviante Collins landed on Injured Reserve.

Minnesota's line will face a stern test this week in a hostile environment, especially against the Vikings biggest rival. Minnesota will likely have to rely on a silent snap count and hand signals at times to combat the noise at Lambeau Field.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer wants the group to be a little better than last week, where the offensive line had its ups and downs against San Francisco. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked three times, and the Vikings averaged just 3.6 yards per carry on 32 attempts.

If the line can give Cousins time to find his playmakers and open up holes in the running game, the Vikings could win back-to-back regular-season games at Lambeau Field for the first time since the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

Vikings secondary could be kept on its toes | By @LindseyMNSports

The Vikings secondary likely will look a little different than it did in Week 1.

Mackensie Alexander sat out last Sunday with an ankle injury, and Trae Waynes left the game early with a knee injury, but both were full participants in practice this week. Mike Hughes was moved from the slot to the outside to take over for Waynes; assuming Alexander is healthy, it will be interesting to see if Hughes takes any reps at nickel or if Alexander takes the bulk of the responsibilities. Jayron Kearse has also been practicing at nickel back and stepped in there against the 49ers.

Minnesota's defensive backs will be up against a crew of talented Packers skill players, including Randall Cobb, who racked up 142 receiving yards and a touchdown in Green Bay's comeback win over Chicago.

The Vikings secondary may have to respond more heavily this week to quick passes from the pocket. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers left the season opener with a knee injury but returned to lead the Packers back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit. If Rodgers plays but has limited mobility, Minnesota can expect the passer to get the ball out quickly.

Special teams aims to follow strong start | By @pcraigers

After a couple of ups and downs in the preseason, the Vikings special teams group had a strong opener.

New punter Matt Wile and the coverage team, including Hughes, combined to pin San Francisco at the 4-yard line on the 49ers first possession of the game. Repetitive wins in the field position game eventually helped Minnesota's offense put together a pair of scoring drives in the first half.

Interestingly, Wile was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2018 preseason and played Green Bay at Lambeau Field. The Steelers had Wile handle kickoffs and extra points instead of punts that night, though.

Rookie Daniel Carlson also excelled in Week 1, drilling a 48-yard field goal, going 3-for-3 on extra points and having all five kickoffs garner touchbacks.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer, who graduated from Abbot Pennings High School in DePere, Wisconsin, while his father Chuck coached for the Packers, said Minnesota instructed Carlson to try to get a touchback on each of his kickoffs last week. Priefer said the Vikings might change their approach, depending on the setting and situation, at other times this season.

Special teams have had memorable roles in Minnesota's past two victories at Lambeau Field.

Adam Thielen had a 67-yard run on a fake punt in the 2015 season finale, and tight end David Morgan stepped in and long-snapped after Kevin McDermott suffered a shoulder injury. Morgan got the job done on three punts and two field goals in a 16-0 win.

Substantial Stats

— The Vikings swept the series against the Packers during the 2017 season. It marked the first time since 2009 that the Vikings won both games in the twice-annual matchups.

— Quarterback Kirk Cousins posted a passer rating of 95.1 after completing 20 of 36 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. It was the highest Week 1 passer rating of Cousins' career.

— Vikings safety Harrison Smith recorded a sack against the 49ers to bring his career total to 10. He also had an interception and a fumble recovery to win NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Smith is now the franchise all-time leader in sacks by a defensive backs, passing Joey Browner's 9.5 sacks.

— Stefon Diggs has caught a touchdown in three consecutive games against Green Bay. The Vikings wide receiver has 25 catches for 345 yards and three scores in five career games against Green Bay.

Quotable

"I understand the rivalry of the Vikings and the Packers, and I understand the proximity of everything here. Maybe I didn't understand it at first when I first got here, but I understand it now. They're all big games, with this one obviously they've been the perennial division champs here for a long, long time. We're just trying to go out there and play our best every time we go."

— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on the NFC North rivalry.

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