Today at the Metrodome the Minnesota Vikings (4-4) take on their border rival from Wisconsin(The Land of Cheese), the Green Bay Packers also (4-4) in a game that has more then just "Border Battle" implications. Also try NFC North survival and playoff implications as both need a victory to stay alive in the playoff hunt and possibly a share for first place.
The Vikings come into the game with many uncertanties at defense as their star Defensive end Jared Allen is still questionable. His status is still uncertain after he suffered a level 3 right shoulder sprain in the second half in a win over the Houston Texans last Sunday. He practiced with the team through out the week but was not at top shape and coach Brad Childress described Allen's health saying "he has a lot of healing still to go". However reiterated it wasn't his call saying " They're not going to put me in a position to damage my arm." Childress said he would make a decision on Allen just before kickoff but if he is not ready to go then second year man Brian Robison will fill in. Robison was a fourth round draft pick last year but the hopeful part was his 4 1/2 sacks as a rookie. Robison understood his role but also stated that he is ready to go if Allen is out. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm ready to take on a full-time role right now. I feel like if either one of those guys weren't here, I'd be the starter right now and I'd be just fine". The second year player has also filled in for Vikings other defensive end Ray Edwards.
The Vikings will also be missing two key pieces to their defense on Sunday when the take on the Packers. Defensive line-men Pat and Kevin Williams are out after being suspended by the NFL for substance use violations. The two have been a destructive force for the Minnesota Vikings for many years. Fred Evans in his third year and Otis Grigsby in his second year will fill in for the two Williams'. However the Vikings did get some relief last Sunday when Free Safety Madieu Williams made his Vikings debut against the Texans and even recorded his first interception of the season as he saw lots of game time. Williams missed the first 9 weeks due to a neck injury he suffered in pre-season.
Now the last time the Vikings played the Packers, they lost there opener at Lambeau Field 24-19 in Aaron Rodgers debut as the starting quarterback after replacing future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. After lots of "talk" about Jared Allen and crew about them "coming after" Aaron Rodgers it was Rodgers who had the last laugh and proved to the Green Bay faithful that this was Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood. But the Vikings are hoping that when the Green Bay Packers come to the Metrodome the outcome at the end will be in their favor.
The Vikings know that they will need to pressure Aaron Rodgers, make him throw passes he is uncomfortable with and the defense needs to create turnovers. Even if Jared Allen is unable to play, watch out for Brian Robison to create pressure for Rodgers and Evans and Grigsby to help out as need be. To get a victory the Vikings secondary also must shut down Wide Receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings as they are always big game factors. Another thing to watch for is Packer Running-back Ryan Grant vs the Minnesota D-line. Expect coach Mike McCarthy to test that line early in the game, also he will want to test the Vikings secondary. When Adrian Peterson and the crew take the field for the first time Sunday they need to send a statement to Green Bay by running it with Peterson who should have a decent day even with a more healthy Packer defense. They also once again need veteran quarterback Gus Freotte to do what he's been mostly doing since his first start week 3 which is CONTROL THE CLOCK. Childress has put it in his hands lately and he has stepped up. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian has been on fire the last 4 weeks or so and will be targeted even with double coverage by the Pack, so the young guns, Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade and Tight-end Visanthe Shiancoe will need to step up and get open.
In the end, it will come down to wether the Vikings defense can play with out three of their most affective players, and if they can apply pressure to young Aaron Rodgers. It also depends on if the offense can create big holes for Adrian Peterson and Gus Freotte can find Berrian and the recieving crew for big plays. The Vikings will pull out a win if they can do that.
***Prediction Minnesota Vikings-27 Green Bay Packers-23
NFC NORTH- Andy Smith