Beating Minnesota (-3.5)…
First off, the Vikings can be beaten. The 49ers had them on the ropes and allowed them to escape…
Minnesota’s play-calling is at this point, very predictable. Run the ball as much as possible and occasionally, have Brett throw a play-action pass. Makes perfect sense, when you have a powerful offensive line and the best running back in the NFL. Still, they were a few seconds from defeat last weekend against an upstart and fired-up San Francisco squad.
Secondly, the Vikes special teams allowed a blocked kick to be run back for a TD just before halftime. Their special teams play has its issues. They don’t appear as stout against the run as they were the past few seasons.
What the Packers will need to win:
1. The defensive line must play extremely well and that means we’ll be needing B.J. Raji playing more than just a few snaps. Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly have all performed well, but, we’ll need more reps for Raji so they’re not wore out in the fourth quarter.
2. The offensive line is going to have to step up to the plate. Minnesota’s line is superior to the Rams, Bengals and Bears, for that matter and we cannot allow more than two sacks. This has to be our coming-out party.
3. The new defense will need to continue to improve, and to stop the run, we may need to employ more of the 3-5 (five LBs). A.J. Hawk played his best game of the season last week. Brady Poppinga and Nick Barnett must step-up their games. It may very well mean playing more Desmond Bishop and Clay Matthews. They each, at this time, have shown more playmaking ability than either Nick or Brady. I’d like to see Kampman get a sack and a forced fumble.
4. We need to win the turnover battle-again. We know that Brett, if pressed, will throw balls into double coverage. To this point, the Vikings receivers have been rather pedestrian. Berian is averaging about ten yards a catch versus twenty last year. Charles Woodson and Al Harris and company need a pick or two. I sure would love to see Nick or Charles run one all the way back. We may need that to win the game.
5. Field position. I hope Will Blackmon’s quad is healthy, because we must win the field position game. We need a few big returns. We also need 4.2+ hang time from our punter. And, no missed field goals. Win the first downs battle. Control the clock and time of possession.
6. Penalties must be held to a minimum. No stupid false starts, illegal motions or running into the kicker penalties. We must not have any late hits on Favre.
7. Lastly, we need to be able to run the ball. That means over a 100 yards. Twenty-five or more carries by our running backs. And I’m not counting any scrambles by Aaron. We must be able to run the ball. It may mean initially, passing on first down to have second-and-four or second-and-two. Ball control.
We can win this game. Let’s stay focused and play smart. Field position. Catch all our passes. Ryan Grant must have a solid game running the ball. Blackmon needs some big returns. Crosby can hit a couple of 50+ yard field goals. Kapinos can kick a few punts inside the ten. Woodson and the boys, can pick-off a couple of Brett’s passes. We can win this game. Aaron, we need a big game from you. This is Monday night. This is what it’s all about. Let’s kick their ass!