As most of you already know, I love collaborating with other bloggers around the web to make sure we all get as many perspectives as possible. TC Huddle is one of my favorite blogs about Minnesota Sports that is out there right now (check it out by clicking right here), so I wanted to have Dan Buri of TC Huddle be my first “featured guest” here at my new digs. Today’s topic revolves around important factors in the Vikings possible upset of the undefeated Green Bay Packers in front of a prime time audience.
Three Keys to Upsetting the Packers on Offense by Dan Buri
The Vikings head into Lambeau Field Monday night as one of only five teams with 2 wins or less and face the only remaining undefeated team. They bring with them a rookie QB who has started two games in his career and a middling offense struggling to play 4 quarters of effective football. The cards are clearly stacked up against the Vikings in a game few expect them to win. Lucky for them, the Packers give up the 3rd most yards per game in the league, so there’s a hope. If the Vikings have any chance of winning this game, here are the three things the offense needs to do:
1. All Day All Day
The Packers have the 8th best run defense in the NFL, giving up only 100 yards per game. Lucky for the Vikings they have Adrian Peterson, who is currently 4th in rushing at just 6-tenths of a yard under 100 yards per game. To keep the Packers offense off the field and control the time of possession, the Vikings need Adrian Peterson to run like a bat of hell. Hopefully AP can relive the dominance of his Packers performance from a few years ago.
(As an aside, I chose the phrase “bat out of hell” over the commonly used “run with purpose.” What does that mean? What RB takes the ball and has absolutely no purpose in their running style? Ridiculous.)
2. Establish the Middle of the Field
If you’ve read anything I’ve written about the Vikings this year, you know I continue to harp on the middle of the field. With Shiancoe, Rudolph and Harvin, along with the new strictness the NFL rules show to defensive hits over the middle, the Vikings should be able to establish themselves over the middle better than they have. Monday’s game with the Packers is no different. The Packers give up 312 yds/game, good for third worst in the league. Teams are getting big plays on the Packers, but that’s not where all those yards are coming from. A significant portion is coming from passes over the middle. If the Vikings can control the middle, it’ll open up a whole lot of running room for AP.
3. Convert on 3rd and 4th Down
Through two and a half games, Christian Ponder is 19-48 for 298 yards on first and second down. His completion percentage is 39.5 with an average of 6.2 yards per attempt. In shockingly stark contrast, Ponder is 21-29 for 256 yards on third and fourth down. He has been completing passes on 72.4 percent of third/fourth downs and he averages 8.8 yards per attempt. That shift in effectiveness is stunning. Clearly this is not a sustainable method to success for a young quarterback. Ponder will need to be far more efficient on first and second down to succeed in this league. However, the Packers defense is in the bottom half of the league in 3rd down conversion rate. Ponder will need to continue his 72.4% magic for one more week if we have any hope of marching out of Lambeau with a victory on Monday Night Football.
Bonus: If we have any real shot at pulling this game out, special teams needs to field kicks for healthy returns and the defense needs to put some puts on the board. It’s sad, but true. These games are most often close, however, so who’s to say we won’t be the ones to knock the Packers off their quest for a perfect season
Three Keys To Upsetting The Packers On Defense by Adam Warwas
The Packers are ranked first in the league in scoring, third in passing yardage per game, and fourth in offensive yardage. Their offense, led by the dynamite play of Aaron Rodgers, is playing lights out and presents the Vikings struggling defense with a number of grave challenges.
Let’s take a look at what needs to be done for this defense to help the Vikings come out of Monday night with a win.
1. Get Off The Field
I know, I know, this one will get me the title “Captain Obvious” as it is the goal of any defense to get off the field. This is of particular necessity facing the Packers, who put up 33 points on the Vikings in week seven, because of their high flying offense. Conversely, it has been a long time since I have seen a defense get as visibly exhausted in fourth quarters as this Vikings defense seems to. I don’t think it is a conditioning problem, and it has a lot to do with the offense’s inability to stay on the field, but they must do whatever they can to stay fresh for 60 minutes of football on Monday. The “bend but don’t break” approach may actually be the wrong one against the Packers, because it can be an exhausting one, and the last time they faced off the Vikings fifth ranked run defense looked pathetic against the Packers 20th ranked rushing offense when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter.
2. Rotate The Secondary
Seeing Tyrell Johnson step onto the field as a rotation replacement for Jamarca Sanford this season has caused plenty of eyes to roll in Vikings country. This week, even with Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield likely to start, the Vikings secondary will simply be outmatched against all of those talented Packers wide receivers. The Vikings secondary is less talented, less athletic, and not nearly as savvy as those wide outs at Rodgers’ disposal. In my opinion, the only chance the secondary has of holding their own is to remain well rested (see: #1) in part by utilizing a rotation at all of the positions in the secondary. The only things the Vikings may be able to do better than the Packers, in this respect, is to stay fresher.
3. Stop Jermichael Finley
Remember how bad Greg Olsen torched the Vikings defense prior to the bye week? How about Brandon Pettigrew in week three? The Vikings have a tendency to allow big yardage to tight ends running free up the seams but, other than one touchdown play, the Vikings were largely able to keep Jermichael Finley in check in their previous matchup this year. The Vikings need a repeat performance out of their linebackers and safeties assigned to Finley because, if they don’t, he will nickel and dime this defense into oblivion.
[ NOTE: Dan Buri is an attorney for a global consulting firm and is Editor in Chief of TC Huddle. In addition to writing for TC Huddle, he also writes for various legal blogs and muses about the adventures of marriage with his wife at Buris On The Couch. He has been told his ability to write about sports is as proficient as his ability to play them. His 219 high bowling score leads him to believe this must be a compliment.]