Vikings vs. Packers 8 Keys to the Game for Minnesota
For the Minnesota Vikings, it's deja vu all over again.
This week they have another important road game against a another division rival coming off another embarrassing loss on national TV.
Against the Bears, the Vikings were hoping to avenge a 39-10 loss from their previous visit to Chicago—they failed. Now they travel to Green Bay, where they suffered their worst loss in 2011—a 45-7 defeat with Aaron Rodgers throwing four touchdowns and backup Matt Flynn getting into the action with another touchdown pass.
If the Vikings hope to break the whole history repeating itself and prevent another blowout loss, they will need to put together a complete game like the one they played against the 49ers in Week 3.
Here are the keys to the game for the Vikings when they face the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday.
The Vikings Need to Hold onto the Ball
This season, the Minnesota Vikings have proven the corollary that the team that loses the turnover battle will most likely lose the game.
In every game this year, if the Vikings were even or ahead in turnovers, they won the game. They are a plus-four in turnovers for their six wins. It's just the opposite in their five losses—in each game they lost the turnover battle, where they are a minus-nine.
In order for the Vikings to beat anyone, the offense must not lose the football, and defense must come up with a turnover.
Take Advantage of a Hurting Packers Team
While the Vikings are still licking their wounds from the 28-10 beating the Bears administered, the Packers are a little more beat up following their 38-10 pounding the Giants gave them on Sunday night.
On Thursday, according to packers.com, Green Bay had 13 players listed on its injury report, including wide receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Charles Woodson.
In total, eight defensive players are included on the report. If the Vikings have any shot of winning this game, they need to take advantage of the Packers defense that is ranked 18th overall in yards allowed.
Sack Aaron Rodgers—at Least 5 Times
The key to beating the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers is to keep him from throwing the ball downfield.
In the Packers seven wins, Rodgers was sacked only 16 times, and five of those came in a win over the Bears in Week 2. That comes to an average of 2.3 times per game.
Contrast that to their four losses where he was sacked 21 times—an average of 5.3 times per game.
After getting only one gift sack on Jay Cutler, when his center tripped on the Bears' first play from scrimmage, Jared Allen and the Vikings will need to have a much better effort in Green Bay. The last time the Vikings won in Green Bay was in 2009. In that game, Allen led a six-sack attack against Rodgers, recording three by himself.
If It's Been Said Once, It's Been Said a Thousand Times—Give AP the Ball.
Last week against the Bears, Adrian Peterson finished with 108 yards on 18 carries. It was his fifth straight 100-yard game. On the negative side, he was also charged with two fumbles, although the second one was a botched hand-off between him and quarterback Christian Ponders.
The benefits of giving Peterson the ball include having Peterson get into a rhythm, it grinds down the defense and the more the Vikings can run the ball and use up time on the clock, the less time Aaron Rodgers will have to throw the ball.
Against the Packers, Peterson has averaged 5.1 yards per carry and 103.3 yards per game. His numbers against the Packers in Green Bay are slightly lower than at home. At Lambeau Field, he averages 4.4 yards per carry and 85.4 yards per game.
Since being selected in the first round by the Vikings in 2007, Peterson has scored a touchdown in seven of the 10 games against the Packers.
One More Time—Give AP the Ball, at Least 22 Times
It's not enough to hand Adrian Peterson the ball, but it has to be over and over again.
While the average number of yards in wins versus losses is not that different—110.4 in the five losses compared to 114.0 in the six wins, the number of carries does. In the Vikings' losses, Peterson is getting an average of 16.6 carries, but when they win, he averages 21.7 attempts.
The Vikings Will Need an Above-Average Day on Offense
Yeah, I know what you're thinking—what an idiot, the Vikings are going to need much more than an above average day on offense.
In the Packers' four losses, they allowed an average of 367 yards per game—and that includes the second-lowest total they have allowed this season of 238 yards to the Seahawks—the game they were robbed of a victory by the replacement officials.
Compare that to 337 yards allowed when they win.
The Vikings come in to Week 13 with an average of 333 yards of total offense per game. That means the Vikings need to raise their average by at least another 34 yards of offense.
With Adrian Peterson averaging 5.8 yards per carry, that means give him the ball another six times—now that's genius!
Welcome Back, Percy Harvin
If the Vikings have any chance of beating the Packers, they will desperately need wide receiver Percy Harvin on the field.
Even with missing the last two games with an ankle sprain suffered against the Seahawks, Harvin is leading the Vikings with 62 receptions for 677 yards.
The chances of Harvin playing on Sunday don't look promising after not participating in Wednesday's practice. In a report from 1500espn.com, Judd Zulgad is reporting that head coach Leslie Frazier is still hoping Harvin can play on Sunday.
"We'll see where he is (Friday)," coach Leslie Frazier said after Thursday's practice. "See if we can get him some work."
In the two games that he has missed, no one has stepped up to fill the void, including Jerome Simpson, Devin Aromashodu and rookie Jarius Wright.
Get the Most out of Tight End Kyle Rudolph
The good news is that Kyle Rudolph has been cleared to play Sunday against the Packers after suffering a concussion in Chicago.
The bad news is, he is suffering from a strained shoulder as well. After missing practice on Wednesday, he fully participated on Thursday.
For the Vikings' second-leading receiver, it seems to be either feast or famine. In the first three games, he caught 13 passes and three touchdowns. He then only caught six passes in the next two games.
Then he had a decent six-catch game against the Redskins.
Without Percy Harvin on the field the last two games, he's averaged six catches per game.
The team leader with seven touchdown receptions, Rudolph will need to shake off the injuries and have another six-plus catch game against the Packers if the Vikings have any chance of winning.