10 things to watch in the Packers-Vikings game : Packers Insider

10 things to watch in the Packers-Vikings game

November 21, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 21, 2010 ~ by Tom Silverstein, Journal Sentinel

~1. The big three: This should be the debut of the jumbo front on defense. That’s 340-pound end Ryan Pickett, 340-pound nose B.J. Raji and 360-pound end Howard Green. It will be a first-down defense most likely used when the Vikings go with two receivers or double tight ends. It’s one way to clog things up for running back Adrian Peterson.

The Packers may have Ryan Pickett back to help anchor the Big Beef Defensive Line in an effort to clog up the running lanes for Adrian Peterson. Still, backside linebackers need to be aware of Peterson with the cutbacks.

2. The return of the screen: The Packers had a lot of success with that play against the hard-charging Vikings in the first meeting. This time around, watch for one of the Vikings linemen to soft rush or drop off into coverage to combat the screen. If that happens, the Packers need to run the ball where it looks like they are going to throw the screen.

3. Short and shorter: Kicker Ryan Longwell’s kickoffs aren’t very long, which is one of the reasons the Vikings are one of the worst teams in the NFL in average drive start. Longwell will place the ball in the corners and try to pin down new returner Sam Shields, but if there are low line drives, Shields has to make use of them.

4. Low and lower: Don’t expect the Packers to kick away much to returner Percy Harvin. I wouldn’t be surprised if they squib-kicked every time. They have to keep him from dominating the game with his returns. He had a 48-yarder in the last meeting and he’s even more dangerous on turf.

5. Clifton and Bulaga won’t be as good as they were at Lambeau Field: If the pair of offensive tackles hold Jared Allen and Ray Edwards to no sacks at the Metrodome then you can start anointing them. The get-offs are so quick it’s next to impossible to keep the two ends in check, especially for a passing team like the Packers. They will get pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

6. To blitz or not to blitz: That is the question facing defensive coordinator Dom Capers. The Vikings did a great job getting the ball to Peterson in the passing game during the last meeting and he was able to get some yards because the Packers were blitzing. Capers wants pressure on Brett Favre, but can he afford to let Peterson run wild?

7. Expect Shields to be tested: The Vikings saw how Dallas’ Dez Bryant used his height advantage against the 5-10 Shields and they’ll try to get the 6-4 Sydney Rice matched up on him. If Bernard Berrian plays, he’ll be another option. If Rice lines up outside all day, expect Tramon Williams to match up against him as much as possible

8. Tight end vs. tight end: The Vikings have Visanthe Shiancoe, who has developed a tight relationship with Favre and should have had a touchdown catch in the last meeting (replay wrongly reversed it). Aside from Harvin, he’s the best option the Vikings have had of late. By contrast, the Packers’ tight ends have been virtually invisible the last four games. If rookie Andrew Quarless is going to be a player, now would be a good time to show it.

9. The right stuff: It makes sense for the Packers to run the ball at Allen, who sells out on the pass rush and can be moved in the running game, but the strength of the offensive line is the right side where Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga reside. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Crabtree lines up next to Bulaga and the Packers attack that side.

10. Hole in the backfield: It’s likely fullback Korey Hall won’t play because of a back injury and it could affect the way the Packers run the ball up the middle. Hall functions better against speed than Quinn Johnson or John Kuhn. He’s best at picking off linebackers on the second level. It will be interesting to see how his absence affects the run game.

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