Senior writer jclombardi previews Packers vs Vikings game day.
Packers vs Vikings preview: Teams: Packers (6-3) vs. Vikings (3-6). Time: Sunday at High Noon. Place: The Metrodome, Minneapolis. TV coverage: FOX Network. Packers injury report–WR Donald Driver (quadriceps), DE/NT Ryan Pickett (ankle) and FB Korey Hall (back) are questionable; LB Desmond Bishop (hip), LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder), LT Chad Clifton (knee), CB Pat Lee (ankle), LB Clay Matthews (shin), TE Andrew Quarless (shoulder), C Scott Wells (arch) and CB Charles Woodson (toe) are probable. FIVE THINGS TO WATCH–No dome doom: While Aaron Rodgers has endured his share of sacks at the Metrodome, he and his line worked in perfect concert during the Packers’ 28-24 victory over the Vikings at Lambeau Field on Oct. 24, when Rodgers wasn’t sacked while completing 21 of 34 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He’s 0-2 at the Metrodome and only 9-12 overall (including playoffs) in road games. Return to sender: Sam Shields is the Packers’ kickoff returner. Tight quarters: Since Finley was lost for the season to a knee injury Oct. 10 at Washington, the Packers have watched the tight end essentially disappear from the offense. Noise pollution: McCarthy likened playing in the Metrodome to playing “in front of a bad stereo system. But whether or not the Metrodome’s famously noisy environment impacts the Packers’ performance depends on how apathetic the Vikings’ fans are toward their team or how quickly the Packers get off to a good start to quiet the crowd. The last dance: Favre will be making his 295th consecutive career regular-season start, but it’s hard to imagine a game more important to him than what figures to be his last one against his former team. Having stated on several occasions that he won’t be back for a 21st NFL season in 2011, Favre is facing the Packers for the last time. “It’s a big deal,” Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said.
Packers vs Vikings preview: Keys to the game–Vikings QB Favre has more than doubled his interception total from last season (seven) with 16, he has a sore shoulder to go with his injured ankle, his receiving corps is banged up and teams are loading the box to gang up on RB Adrian Peterson. So, it’s fair to say the Packers’ aggressive defense will be attacking downhill. Green Bay rushed 23 times in 58 plays in the first meeting but has been held to less than 4.0 yards per carry in four straight games. With more passes flying and Donald Driver (thigh) gimpy, WR Greg Jennings has at least six catches in each of his last four games. Game plan–Packers can’t afford to show up with the Jekyll-and-Hyde offense that they had in squeaking past the Vikings 28-24 at Lambeau Field. Going on the road in a hostile environment to play a division rival that is in desperation mode will require Green Bay to be as crisp in moving the football. Given that Green Bay traditionally doesn’t run the football with success in that dome, a barrage of quick, short passes from Aaron Rodgers against Minnesota’s soft secondary would be the way to establish the ball control. Defensively, Green Bay’s aiming point is running back Peterson who stood out in defeat for the Vikings in the first meeting with 28 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown. Mistake-prone Brett Favre, the league’s interceptions leader, can’t be sure to have Harvin, Berrian and Rice on the field to throw to for the entire game. So, the Packers could manage to load the box with 8 defenders to account for Peterson and not lose anything by singling up on the receivers.
Commentary: It’s early Sunday game day reflecting upon the classic intangibles in life that the Lombardi legends understand beyond the sports business. We reach maybe the final curtain in the Favre watch with the Packers. The old gunslinger has one final last harrah, although he is an iconic Packers legend who will be missed in the NFL heading toward a murky sunset, the Hall of Fame and the retirement of number four in the Packers organization. We share the mutual fact of life that management has inherent limitations with nothing to do with fate and destiny. Like petty competition in sports blogging, they are simply amusing distractions on the journey to greatness and immortal fame. If the Packers want this game, it is a great opportunity to find their post-Favre identity. We hope they get it.