Keys to the Game: Packers vs. Vikings

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Green Bay Packers

Stop Peterson

Any conversation about beating the Minnesota Vikings begins with 2012 NFL MVP running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson is fourth in the league with 851 yards. The Packers took him out of the Week 8 game, holding him to 60 yards on just 13 carries in the 44-31 victory. Since then, the Packers defense has allowed Chicago’s Matt Forte (125 yards) and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy (155) to run with abandon. Last week the Packers held New York Giants running back Andre Brown to 66 yards on 18 carries.

Get Lacy involved

The Packers rookie running back was held to just 14 carries and 27 yards last week as the Packers offense tried to catch up to the Giants. When he faced the Vikings in Week 8, Lacy put up 94 yards on 29 carries. The Packers will need Lacy to be much closer to 100 yards than 27 if they want to win without quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings

Pick Tolzien

The last time the Vikings faced the Packers, they struggled to deal with Rodgers. The Packers quarterback went 24 for 29 for 285 yards and two touchdowns. It has to be a relief that instead they’ll be facing Scott Tolzien. Tolzien has shown an ability to hit on deep passes, but is not as careful with the football as Rodgers is. His three interceptions a week ago killed the Packers’ chances to win the game. Still, he was able to rack up 339 yards through the air, thanks to standout performances by receivers Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin.

Score quick

To beat the Packers, the Vikings need to take the blueprint the Giants put together last week and replicate it. That included jumping out to a 10-0 lead. The Giants led throughout the game, taking Lacy out of the game and forcing the Packers defense to play more minutes. The formula could work for the Vikings, if they can get that early score out of quarterback Christian Ponder.

OTHER KEYS

Must-See Matchup

David Bakhtiari vs. Jared Allen

The Packers’ rookie left tackle has been holding his own against most comers this season, including holding the Vikings’ Jared Allen without a sack in Week 8. The rematch is even more important. Tolzien does not have the pocket awareness of Rodgers, which means the offensive line has to give the quarterback even more of a clean pocket to pass from.

Must-Miss Matchup

Christian Ponder vs. Packers’ secondary

A clash of a movable object versus a resistible force, both Ponder and the Packers secondary have disappointed their teams this season. After giving quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman chances, the Vikings are back to Ponder. The third-year quarterback has a quarterback rating of 74.9. He’s passed for 1,375 yards and six touchdowns, but has nine interceptions. The Packers secondary has been porous.

Hot Streak

Jordy Nelson

If any player has picked up the slack after Rodgers broke his collarbone, it’s Nelson. The receiver had 117 yards on eight catches last week and has 240 yards since Rodgers was injured. Nelson’s hands, ability to ditch defenders and make big plays has never been more apparent, now that he’s doing it with a quarterback that was on the practice squad not too long ago.