There are no secrets between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. When the division rivals face off for the third time this season on Saturday night, the winner will be decided by execution in a few keys areas.
Of course, the most recent meeting came last weekend when the Vikings pulled off a thrilling three-point victory to secure a playoff berth. Going on the road to Lambeau Field and emerging with a playoff triumph is a completely different task, however.
It should be another tremendous battle between teams that know each other just as well as they know themselves. Let's examine the most important key to victory for both sides.
Vikings: Put constant pressure on Aaron Rodgers
In last week's game, Brian Robison pulled off a crucial strip sack early in the third quarter. The Vikings recovered the Rodgers fumble and proceeded to go on an extended scoring drive that turned the tide in their favor.
Minnesota finished the game with five sacks of the Packers quarterback. The defense's main task is making life difficult on him once again. If they allow him to stand tall in the pocket, he's going to pick them apart with ease.
The Vikings secondary isn't good enough to contain all of Green Bay's weapons unless the pass rush is forcing Rodgers to get rid of the ball quickly. They ranked 24th in passing yards allowed and gave up the eighth-most passing touchdowns.
Jared Allen, Everson Griffen and the aforementioned Robison give the Vikings a trio capable of keeping the heat on Rodgers for 60 minutes. They combined to rack up 28.5 sacks during the regular season, and should be in attack mode on Saturday.
Packers: Contain Adrian Peterson
Peterson has been held below 120 yards rushing just twice since Week 7. In two games against the Packers, he's accumulated an eye-popping 409 yards on the ground, so it's clear who the main focus will be for Green Bay's defense.
The Packers actually performed admirably against the run during the regular season, ranking in the middle of the pack. But Peterson has the ability to make even solid defenses look terrible, and that's the chief concern.
In the first game, when Peterson rumbled to over 200 yards, the Packers only escaped because of two key interceptions by Morgan Burnett. They can't count on that happening again. A more complete run-stopping effort is necessary.
That means stacking the box with eight or nine defenders and forcing Christian Ponder to win the game for Minnesota. Green Bay won't be able to totally shut down Peterson, but if it can keep him below five yards per carry, that will be a success and likely lead to victory.
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