Keys to the Game: Packers at Vikings

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Green Bay Packers

Ball hawk

With the Minnesota Vikings playing musical chairs at their quarterback spot, as of early Thursday it wasn’t clear who would get the starting nod on Sunday. Newly acquired Josh Freeman was expected to be the starter but was suffering from concussion-like symptoms early in the week. If Freeman can’t play, expect them to start Christian Ponder, who lost his starting job this season. Whoever ends up behind center, it’s a good bet they will give the Packers’ secondary plenty of opportunities to get the ball. The Packers have to take advantage of those opportunities.

Get Rodgers going

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been putting up huge numbers with so many of his receivers injured and the emergence of rookie Eddie Lacy in the backfield. That needs to change. While Lacy is a welcome addition and the running game is working well right now, the Packers cannot depend totally on it. With Rodgers, no one expects the Packers to become a one-dimensional running team. To avoid that, Rodgers needs to build rapport with new receivers. He did that last week with Jerrett Boykin. Rodgers should keep throwing and make some more new friends.

Minnesota Vikings

Play smart

The Vikings are pretty outmatched in this game. They need a flawless performance. That means no stupid plays, no ill-timed turnovers, as were on display in an embarrassing loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. The Vikings need to be thinking of keeping the game close and hoping they have a chance to win it in the end.

Get Peterson going

The Vikings threw the ball 53 times in Monday night’s game against the Giants. Peterson, the NFL MVP running back, had 13 carries for 28 yards. That distribution is completely out of whack. The Vikings have to get something going with Peterson to have success, especially with the problems at the quarterback position. Every play the Vikings do anything but hand the ball to Peterson is a negative play.

OTHER KEYS

Must-See Matchup

Adrian Peterson vs. Packers run defense

Peterson torched the Green Bay Packers a season ago to the tune of 210, 199 and 99 yards in three contests. This year should be different. A Packers run defense that was spotty a season ago is playing lights out this year. The unit is ranked third in the NFL for stopping the run. No doubt the group can’t wait to hold Peterson in check after letting him run wild last season.

Hot Seat

David Bahktiari

The Packers’ rookie left tackle has passed most of his tests so far this season, manning the important blind side of Rodgers. This week is another test, going against Minnesota sack specialist Jared Allen. Allen has four sacks this season and is playing well. Bahktiari has a tough job, but he has embraced the challenges of playing the toughest pass rushers week in and week out.

PayBack

Vikings receiver Greg Jennings, who left for Minnesota via free agency, had a lot to say about his former teammates this offseason. On Wednesday he told the Wisconsin media that it was mostly blown out of proportion and that he was just kidding. Packers receiver James Jones, one of Jennings’ good friends on the team, said he hopes Jennings is held to just three catches and three yards. Sam Shields and the rest of the Packers’ defensive backfield probably hope they won’t even give that up.