Green Bay Packers: 5 Big Questions for Monday Night's Game
Although the records are starkly different, these are two teams in the same division that always play well against each other.
Despite the 2-6 record, the Vikings have a lot of talent. This starts with Adrian Peterson, who is arguably the best running back in the league. Other playmakers include Jared Allen on defense and rookie quarterback Christian Ponder, who has had a solid start in his first year in the NFL.
The Packers sit at 8-0, but they aren't necessarily perfect, as they have given up a lot of yards on defense, ranking near the bottom of the league. Still, they find ways to win games on both sides of the ball, which has contributed to their unblemished record.
Here are five big questions for the Packers-Vikings matchup that will be answered on the field on Monday Night Football.
5. Can the Defense Limit Adrian Peterson's Yardage?
The Packers defense has given up a lot of yards, but it hasn't necessarily been on the ground.
However, Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the league, and despite some of the Vikings' problems, Peterson continues to play at a high level.
The key to the Packers winning may very well be limiting Peterson's yardage, as this would likely force rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to throw the ball.
This could work to the Packers' advantage, especially if they are able to force turnovers against the rookie. However, it could be bad if the Packers continue to give up passing yards.
4. How Big Will the Home-Field Advantage Be?
The Packers haven't lost a home game in more than a year, and before that, their last home loss at Lambeau was against the Vikings, when Brett Favre was still their quarterback.
The Packers historically have had one of the best home-field advantages in the league at Lambeau Field, and this advantage has continued in the Aaron Rodgers era, as Rodgers in 20-7 at home, with only three losses at home in the past two years.
Also consider the fact that this is a night game, and the Packers are sitting at 8-0.
The Packers faithful will be in attendance as always, and will be loud.
It could be very difficult for the 2-6 Vikings to pull out a win in Lambeau Field on Monday night, especially with the Packers playing so well.
3. Can the Vikings Pass Defense Stop Aaron Rodgers?
Against San Diego, Aaron Rodgers once again played lights-out, passing for four touchdowns and becoming a real headache for the Chargers defense.
However, the Chargers' corners and safeties were able to cover the receivers very well, but with Rodgers' accuracy with the ball, he threw many passes that are difficult to defend.
The Vikings defense is going to have their hands full with Aaron Rodgers, but like the Chargers, they do have the talent in the backfield to perhaps give Rodgers a little trouble.
Cornerback Antoine Winfield is the star of the Vikings secondary and has given Rodgers some trouble in the past.
Still, it will be hard for the Vikings to be able to defend against the Packers' brilliant passing game, as there are so many receivers that Aaron Rodgers can go to. When Rodgers plays at his best, he is very hard to stop.
2. Will Jared Allen Cause Problems for the Offensive Line?
If the Vikings' corners can't stop Rodgers, perhaps the defensive line can get to him.
Sack-master Jared Allen has had a lot of success sacking Rodgers in the past, and so far this year, he is having one of the best years for a defensive player, despite the Vikings' poor record.
Jared Allen knows how to get to the quarterback, and he has certainly given Aaron Rodgers problems in the past.
However, this offensive line has improved, even with left tackle Chad Clifton being out of the game. It will be interesting to see if Allen will be able to take advantage of backup Marshall Newhouse's relative inexperience, or if Newhouse will continue to protect Aaron Rodgers well.
1. Will the Packers' Pass Defense Get on Track?
The Packers' pass defense has struggled so far this season, giving up big plays and big yardage.
However, they have made some key stops and forced key turnovers to help win games.
Against a rookie quarterback whom the Packers intercepted twice a couple weeks ago, this could be the game the pass defense finally gets it together.
However, despite the interceptions, Christian Ponder played very well against the Packers, keeping them in the game and nearly driving to win it in the fourth quarter.
Ponder may present more of a problem for the Packers' pass defense than people might think, but this veteran Packers defense should be able to make some key stops and force some turnovers to confuse and limit the rookie's success.