Coming off a much-needed victory against the Dallas Cowboys, the Minnesota Vikings are already focused on their next opponent, the Green Bay Packers.
Despite a rough start to the 2010 season, the Vikings far from being out of the NFC North divisional race. Currently, the 4-2 Chicago Bears are leading the division.
The Bears not as good as their record shows.
The Vikings have shown signs of life over the last month. Their loss to the Jets isn't nearly as bad as it may seem. The interception return at the end by Dwight Lowery was allowed because the Vikings needed the ball back as soon as possible.
As for Green Bay, they are coming off back-to-back losses. In those two losses, the Packers took their opponents, the Redskins and Dolphins, into overtime.
The Packers injuries seem to have caught up to them for right now. With Jermichael Finley being placed on injured reserve, Green Bay's offense isn't quite as dangerous as it was before.
Fortunately for them, they will soon have both Atari Bigby and Al Harris back from injury. This will obviously be a huge boost to the Packers' secondary.
Although early in the season, Minnesota must leave Green Bay, Wisconsin with a victory. They need to prove to themselves, and the rest of the league, just how serious they are.
Green Bay also needs to win on Sunday night at home in order to prove that they are not fading away to inferior opponents.
Keys to victory:
1. Adrian needs plenty of carries
The Packers are currently ranked 21st in the league against the run this year, giving up 112 yards per contest.
With Brett Favre clearly not at 100 percent, Minnesota's running game is going to have to be as good as its ever been before.
Peterson hasn't looked spectacular over the Vikings' last two contests. I see him breaking that short-lived streak against a mediocre run defense.
2. A dose of "Favre magic"
Who knows the Packers better than anybody that isn't a part of their team? The man who played with them for 16 years—Favre.
Thus far, he has looked very lackluster this season. Although his elbow is not at full-strength, he has played through painful injuries before.
He hasn't had his "break-out" game yet this year, but he's bound to have his performance of the year very soon.
3. Pressure Rodgers, win games
When the Vikings were able to rush Aaron Rodgers last year, Minnesota was able to create turnovers, push Green Bay back and even recorded a safety.
Fourteen sacks in two games is great for any team, but not when you give it up.
If Minnesota is able to get in Rodgers face they will have a serious chance of picking him off on more than one occasion.
1. Whoever Lito Sheppard covers is the guy you want to throw to
After giving up an unacceptable three touchdowns against the Cowboys this past Sunday, it's as clear as day that Lito Sheppard is nowhere near as talented as he once was.
I'm not against keeping him on the roster, but I do believe he needs to be whipped into shape before going back out on the field next week.
With Green Bay ranked 10th through the air, they need to destroy Minnesota's already damaged secondary.
2. Ball distribution
The Packers are great at utilizing all of their targets. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and James Jones make up arguably the most talented core of receivers in the league today.
Rodgers rarely ever focuses on one target more than the other, which is a very intelligent move on his part.
E.J. Henderson is great at guarding the opposing tight end, which should persuade people to benching either Donald Lee or Andrew Quarless.
3. Blitz Favre whenever possible
Favre makes his worst decisions when he has a small amount of time in the pocket. Then again, almost every quarterback does.
Minnesota's offensive line hasn't been able to protect him the way they intended, but they're still a solid group.
Nonetheless, Green Bay has a tremendous front-seven that will be able to pressure Favre all day long. He just needs to be smart enough to not make the riskiest of throws.
When it comes down to it, Green Bay's keys to win are ultimately much simpler than Minnesota's. Having home field advantage is also a huge factor.
Favre will go without a cortisone shot in his elbow, which could seriously limit the amount of throws he makes. However, he only threw 19 times on Sunday, which makes me wonder why he claimed his elbow felt great.
This is the type of game where Favre will put his pain way back in his mind, due to adrenaline kicking in once the Vikings possess the ball.
Green Bay just needs to stick to the script. They can't allow these two losses to get the best of them. They are still a very talented football team with loads of potential.
In what is sure to be a game of the year candidate, I do see the Vikings overcoming the odds to upset Green Bay on the road.
Being a homer is only a slight factor into my decision. Minnesota has all the tools it takes to edge out a narrow win at the legendary Lambeau Field.
It'll be interesting to see how both teams operate against secondaries that are both dealing with their share of problems.
We're six days away, but the excitement is already in the air, as is always the case with these two squads. It's on like Donkey Kong.
Sunday night, 8:20 P.M. ET on NBC.
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