Green Bay Packers Week 7 Preview: Trouble Brewing in Titletown USA?

Loren BrandrupContributor IOctober 21, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 01:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked by Kevin Williams #93 of the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of the game at Lambeau Field on November 1, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

The stage is set for an epic NFC North barn burner, as the Minnesota Vikings match-up against the Green Bay Packers in front of a prime time national audience on Sunday night.

This will surely be a season defining game as both teams attempt to stake their respective claims in the NFC North.

The Packers—an early season Super Bowl favorite—are still reeling from two straight overtime losses as they attempt to stave off a re-energized Viking team. 

The Packers (3-3) find themselves in a precarious situation against the Vikings (2-3) as they sit in second place in the NFC North, trailing the first place Chicago Bears (4-2). 

Heading into the weekend, numerous questions surrounding the health of a battered defense remain as linebacker Clay Matthews—the leagues sack leader—is still reeling from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined during the loss against Miami.

Adding fuel to the fire, safety Nick Collins (knee), wide receiver Donald Driver (quad), linebacker A.J. Hawk (groin) and cornerback Charles Woodson (personal issues) have all missed practice this week causing growing concern from the Packer faithful.

The one bright spot for the Packers defense has been the return of two key veterans (activated this week from the physically-unable-to-perform list): Safety Atari Bigby and cornerback Al Harris. However it remains to be seen whether they will be active against Minnesota this Sunday and what their contribution will be against a Viking offense (ranked 24th) that has averaged 301 yards per game.

The Packers offense, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers (1,546 yds, 10 TDs), faces an uphill battle against a stingy Vikings defense (ranked 5th) that has allowed only 192 passing yards per game. 

With Rodgers go to target—Jermichael Finley—sidelined for the season and Driver nursing a sore quad, Greg Jennings will need to bare the load with his game changing play making abilities.  

Green Bay will need Brandon Jackson in a big way, as the key to keeping this one close will be done by establishing a running game early. 

Green Bay will also need an error free special teams unit that has been shaky through the first six games as fumbles and coverage lapses have been costly.

The Vikings escaped a pivotal game last week with a 24-21 win over Dallas; however, on Sunday Brett Favre will parade his circus show into Lambeau Field in front of 73,000 loud and rambunctious self proclaimed Cheese Heads that are thirsty for retribution after last season’s painful losses. 

The future hall of famer will need to thrive off of the adversity staring him in the face as he attempts to shrug off the “Favregate” allegations, stemming from sexually suggestive texts sent two years ago to former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger. 

Adding insult to injury, Favre’s rapid decline and nagging elbow tendonitis has had its effects on a sluggish Vikings team as he has already tied his 2009 season high seven interceptions.

With the addition of Randy Moss, the Vikings have added their supposed “missing piece” as Favre was granted his wish for a deep threat receiver. This wasn't the first time that Favre lobbied for Moss, as it was suggested in 2007 that the Packers front office passed on a chance to acquire Moss from the Oakland Raiders.

Since being acquired from New England, Moss through two games has nine catches for 136 yards and a TD. His added presence has taken pressure off of workhorse Adrian Peterson (553 yds, 4 TDs) as opponents have been forced to respect Moss’ big play ability.

With the early season loss of Sidney Rice, the speedy and often dangerous Percy Harvin has lead the Vikings in receiving yards (224 yds, 3 TDs) as he has become a favorable target as of late.     

Heading into Sunday night, the Packers boast an impressive 20-9 (.690) record at Lambeau Field since 2007, and have posted a 4-2 record or better in their division each season under head coach Mike McCarthy. 

Football fans can expect a back and forth nail biter as the past 13 of 15 regular-season games between the NFC North rivals have been decided by seven points or less (Vikings have won the past three meetings).

The Pack get back on track at home while Favre’s tank runs empty as Lambeau Leaps Favre out the back door. 

Cheese Heads rejoice, as the Green and Gold stick it out, 24-20.