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Opposition Research: Minnesota Vikings (W4)

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Opposition Research: Minnesota Vikings (W4)

Welcome to Opposition Research, where I'll be taking a look at the next Packers opponent, the Minnesota Vikings.  I could try to be dispassionate and approach this post like I did the one before it, but you know that’s not going to work here.  Everyone in the national media is talking about this game - what it means to the Packers, what it means to Brett Favre, what it means to those fans that still can’t choose between the Packers and Brett Favre.  You get the picture.  So for this week, I’m going to do what I can to shed light on a few things you might not have heard about in the hype that’s already started.

Coming into this game, the Vikings are…bordering on overconfident, sitting atop the NFC North at 3-0 (buoyed by come-from-behind wins over the playoff-contending Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions).  What's more, they're fresh from a game that had fans from both the 49ers and the Vikings posting uber-brief exclamations of “___ ____ Brett Favre.”  The 49ers had the game all but won when, with 2 seconds on the clock, Favre threw a 32-yard strike to Greg Lewis, after which several things happened all at once: Favre checked off 4th quarter comeback #43 (or did he?); Vikings fans finally accepted Favre as their personal savior; 49ers fans blamed Favre for ruining birthdays; and, the hype for Favregeddon I kicked off with a bang.

The fans at home are…salivating over the possibility of making it to Week 6 without a 100-yd rusher.  These particular Vikings bloggers think that the Packers are coming into town with the sole intention of breaking the Vikings’ 26 game streak of keeping rushers under 100 yards (Ryan Grant was the last to top 100 yds, in 2007's 34-0 romp).  Really.

Now down from their post-game high, however, some fans are realizing that, were it not for that play, they wouldn’t be too thrilled with their QB.  Without that play, Favre’s passer rating drops from 94.5 to 87.8, and his yards per attempt drop from 6.0 to 5.6.  In a game where Favre was finally slinging it around (24 for ... did they really throw 46 times?), he had looked like a middling game manager up until that throw (269 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks).  With Peterson held to 85 yards and the offense held scoreless in the second half to that point, that kind of production doesn’t raise confidence in a QB.  At least, not until he makes that play. After that play, all is forgiven.

When looking at the Packers on film...Pat and Kevin Williams think they can keep Rodgers in the pocket and make him throw the ball, like they did in last year's Metrodome outing.  Also, the Vikings aren't sure yet what to make of the Packers new 3-4 defense.  Same players, wildly different scheme.  Yes, the Vikings have played the Packers, yes they’ve played these Packers players, yes they’ve even played 2 teams with a 3-4 defensive scheme.  But they’ve never played these players in this scheme, and Brad Childress is going to need that extra day to prepare for all the special plays that Capers is cooking up.

Something to chew on...the Vikings did not allow San Francisco to convert a single 3rd down in the game, forcing the 49ers to go a crippling 0-11.  Now, before you start worrying about this as a regular thing, they hadn’t done it since 12/1998, and ranked 19th on 3rd down conversions in 2008.  They had a good game…but it shows that they’re capable of, and the Packers (as we know) have struggled to avoid 3rd-and-a-cab-ride situations.

In addition, the Vikings just locked up Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield for five more years, in a new deal worth $35 million. Yes, the man is small (5'9", 190), but according to Andrew Brandt, he's a guy you plan around on game day.  Winfield comes into the game with 20 career interceptions, 82 passes defended, and 684 tackles.

"Can I See Off Your Paper?" It's early in the week, and already, people are breaking down the ways that the game could play out.  Mike McCarthy thinks Adrian Peterson can be contained (hint, it's about fundamentals and “gap control” - start at 18:30).  Pete Dougherty has a great scouting report on the Vikings, as does LeRoy Butler, who highlights the need to:

  • blitz on long down-and-distances;
  • attack the safeties deep with play action passes and hefty doses of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver;  and
  • make sure younger players understand this is when the big boys come to play.

Some Vikings fans have graciously identified areas where the Packers can find room to run:

As far as injuries are concerned, the most significant ailment facing the Minnesota Vikings are the migraines that threatened Percy Harvin before last week's game.  Otherwise, they're hale and healthy heading into Monday night.

Parting Shots:

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (5) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

bucky's picture

Pretty thorough and enlightening. A few comments:

The game in the Dome last year was not Rodgers' first start; it was his ninth. The opener in Lambeau was his first. I'd also note that, as I've written elsewhere, the Packers had some pretty decent success running the ball against the Vikes in both games last season. In the operner, Grant ran 12 times for 92 yards, while in the rematch in the Dome, he had 16 carries for 75 yards. One might argue that the Packers really ought to have run the ball more in both of those games, particularly the latter one. Seeing as the Vikes got gashed for 129 yards on the grounds by the Lions- and you figure facing a 2d time starter rookie QB, they'd have sold out to stop the run in order to force the Lions to throw- I think the Vikings can be had on the ground, if the Packers are willing to stick with it.

And that ESPN column by Fleming was interesting as well, and worth remembering if only for this quote:

"I mean, from all the coverage after the game I was led to believe that Favre has delivered the same kind of heroic, Goliath-sized gut punch a total of 42 other times. Boy was I wrong. Really wrong. <b>Like, Nickelback is a good band, wrong.</b>"


holly's picture

Bucky - absolutely, the Pack (Grant in particular) has had success on the ground against the Vikes. I was just pointing out that, after giving up 200+ yds in 2 games, they were unbelievably stingy against the 49ers. And, isn't that quote fantastic?
Ron - agree about the OL, but I'm going to cross my fingers until they're broken that Rodgers and Grant can adjust. I think the game will be night-and-day different from what we've seen before, regardless.

PackersRS's picture

Well, if you had any worries that this could be redundant, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Again, a day (at least) worth of reading, and IMO the best source about our opponent. Kudos again!

RonLC's picture

Nice job Holly! Good stuff as usual. One thing really scares me more than anything, our O line. Through three games they have been AWFUL. MM needs to change their scheme and have them play to their ability not try to force the ZBS in to a group who obviously cann't play it.

Packnic's picture

Excellent work Holly!

thats about as much coverage as any person could ask for. Thanks.

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