Adrian Peterson vs. Packers' run defense
The greatness and skill of Vikings (soon to be) Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson will be on full display at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday night.
Peterson, running against eight man fronts all afternoon in Tennessee, had one of his poorest games with 31 yards rushing on 19 carries - a long gain of 9 yards!
His greatness limits the Vikings' running attack from a stylistic standpoint. He is not a patient runner, does not do well out of shotgun and does not like a fullback.
He also would rather run inside to contact than outside to daylight. He is one of the most physical running backs in the NFL today.
Peterson has a rare jump-cut move, is a speed-to-power runner, but often runs where no one else would, and as a result he gets hit behind the line of scrimmage a lot!
But he is relentless, keeps coming, and just when you have him under control, five carries for four yards, he explodes for a backbreaking twenty-plus yard run.
The Packers were outstanding against the run at Jacksonville, allowing a league best 48 yards rushing, 1.8 average per play. They made the Jags one-dimensional and that was a subtle key to their victory.
Jacksonville’s T.J. Yeldon is a nice back, but suffice to say the Packers' defense is stepping way up in class this week trying to defend against the best back in the game today in Peterson.
Oh and lest you forget, in his last five games against the Packers, "AP" is averaging 132 rushing yards per game.
TE Kyle Rudolph against GB coverage
The Packers struggled against elite tight ends all of last year. That trend continued last week at Jacksonville where tight ends Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis combined for seven catches, 112 yards (including plays of 22 and 37 yards) and a touchdown.
The Packers have tried hybrid safety/corner Micah Hyde and even cornerback Quinten Rollins to no avail.
This was a consistent problem a season ago and the Packers still need to get a handle on tight ends, because in Rudolph they are facing one of the best in the business.
Last year Rudolph had six catches for 106 yards and a 47-yard touchdown in the game at Minneapolis. He did not catch a pass in the rematch in Green Bay.
Getting a handle on opposing tight ends is a priority for the Packers defense starting this week and moving forward!
Vikings' QB situation
Head coach Mike Zimmer is playing coy on who will start at quarterback this week for the Vikings.
Last week, it was veteran Shaun Hill who did not win the game but did not turn the ball over, and that’s all the Vikings wanted.
This week they will need more from the quarterback position against the Packers.
Sam Bradford, the former first pick in the draft by the Rams in 2010, was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles for a first and fourth round draft pick after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a knee injury in late August.
They didn’t pay that price to sit Bradford no matter, how efficient Hill was week one in Tennessee. The Vikings paid the price to get Bradford because they believe they have all the other pieces in place to reach the Super Bowl.
Furthermore, the devastating knee injury suffered by Bridgewater may preclude him from being ready for next year. Bradford is under contract through 2017.
According to offensive coordinator Norv Turner, Bradford fits his offense. Turner says Bradford is among the smartest quarterbacks he’s ever coached.
Bradford has a good, not great arm; he is very accurate and has a quick release, but he is an injury waiting to happen - including a twice torn ACL and reconstructed shoulder that cost him a couple of seasons in his career.
He is now three weeks into learning this offense, but if Bradford is as smart as Turner believes, and he’s healthy, he gives the Vikings their best chance to win Sunday night.
One thing to note here: the Vikings losing starting Bridgewater is not like the Packers losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings are structured to win with defense, not offense, and that makes all the difference in the world.
For Bradford or whomever starts at quarterback for Minnesota, the goal is “just don’t lose the game.”