The Minnesota Vikings visit Lambeau Field and face the Green Bay Packers for just the first time this season. The two teams will square off again in week 17 in Minnesota. Both teams are coming off of a big loss and are fighting to keep postseason hopes alive.
The Packers were handed their worst loss in years at the hands of the New York football Giants while the Vikings were soundly defeated by the first-place Chicago Bears. Both teams will likely be fired up and looking to get back on track. At least they should be in a divisional game this late in the season.
Let’s take a look at the key matchups that will manifest themselves this Sunday.
Vikings Defensive Line vs. Packers Offensive Line
In the number one slot is the matchup most critical to Green Bay’s success this week. As is likely to be the case for the rest of this season, the Packers have to find a way to protect Aaron Rodgers and start winning their matchups up front.
Minnesota features Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen, who will square up on Packers left tackle Marshall Newhouse. Last season, Allen had three total sacks on Rodgers in the two games and that was when the Green Bay offensive line was playing better than they are now. Allen is athletic and can get after the ball so Rodgers and the offense need to be mindful of where he is at all times.
My guess is that Green Bay is going to need to provide some extra help on the blind side with either a chip block by the back and release for check down or a straight up double team.
On the right side is Vikings defensive end Brian Robison. You may recall an incident last season when, after a play, Robison gave TJ Lang a foot shove a la Ndamukong Suh (couldn’t resist the reference) right to the mid section. Whatever Lang needs to do to find his motivation this week, he needs to do it in a big way. True, he’s filling in for the injured Bryan Bulaga and is out of position. But he still has to find a way to neutralize the rush. Rodgers rolls out right more often than he does left and this matchup will be key.