One thing to watch for in each phase of the game as the Green Bay Packers prepare to take on the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7…
- Offense: Doubling Jared Allen––The Vikings secondary is decimated. After being incarcerated on Saturday, cornerback Chris Cook isn’t going to play. Thanks to injury fellow cornerback Antoine Winfield and safety Jamarca Sanford very likely won’t suit up either. About the only threat the Vikings have is their pass rush, particularly NFL sack leader Jared Allen. As long as the rest of the offensive line can handle Brian Robison and Kevin Williams, the Packers may consider frequently giving left tackle Marshall Newhouse help with either the left guard, a tight end or a running back just because Allen might be the only player on the Vikings defense that deserves that amount of attention. Rodgers can probably still carve up the Vikings secondary even with fewer receivers.
- Defense: Will Ryan Pickett hold up?––Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett suffered a concussion in practice on Thursday, which in this day and age can’t be overlooked. It’s perhaps surprising that the coaching and medical staff don’t seem concerned in the least about it. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson is probably the best running back in the NFL, and Pickett is a big reason the Packers are so good at defending the run. Will Pickett play as many snaps as usual? And will he be his usual effective self at stopping the run?
- Special teams: Limiting punt returns––Very quietly the Vikings’ Marcus Sherels ranks third in the NFL in punt return yardage with an average of 13.9 yards on 12 returns. Meanwhile, the Packers rank second to last in opponent punt returns giving up an average of 21.3 yards on nine returns, albeit Darren Sproles got a majority of them on one solitary return. But punter Tim Masthay also ranks 30th in the NFL with a 30.4-yard net punting average, only one player worse. The Packers must improve in that department and corralling Sherels would be a good start.
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