Vikings-Packers Key Matchups Posted

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2009 – 2:48 pm

Every Friday during the regular season, looks at 3 matchups that will help determine the outcome of the Vikings upcoming game.

This week’s Key Matchups feature has been posted and includes a breakdown of the following matchups: Vikings secondary vs. Donald Drive/Greg Jennings, QB Brett Favre vs. QB Aaron Rodgers, and RB Adrian Peterson vs. Green Bay’s front 7.

You can read this week’s Key Matchups feature by clicking here.

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SI’s Peter King Talks With Longwell About Favre’s Return

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2009 – 2:04 pm

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King, who authors the popular Monday Morning Quarterback feature on each week, currently has a piece on the magazine’s website about QB Brett Favre’s return to Lambeau Field this weekend.

Except this particular piece doesn’t contain a quote from Favre (wisely) downplaying the significance of his return. King spoke with Vikings K Ryan Longwell, who spent 9 years in Green Bay before joining the Vikings in 2006. The veteran kicker has experienced – to a lesser degree, no doubt – what Favre will experience this weekend in terms of returning to Green Bay as a member of the Vikings.

King does a nice job of relaying Longwell’s perspective on this weekend’s game and Favre’s return to Lambeau Field.

“Having been around him for so many big games, he always, always, always rises to the occasion,” Longwell told King. “He plays to an almost other-worldly level when things are against him. I think even though the pressure might be on him, he somehow channels it to be a positive. I don’t know … he has a way of making the impossible possible.”

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Vikings-Packers Competition Actually Begins Today

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2009 – 11:25 am

Today the Vikings will finish a week of practices in preparation for their game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon. But even though the game is on Sunday, the competition between the Vikings and Packers will actually begin today.

Vikings DL Coach Karl Dunbar and DL Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Ray Edwards, Brian Robison, Jimmy Kennedy and Letroy Guion will take on the Green Bay Packers WRs in a friendly battle to see who can raise the most money in The Salvation Army Red Kettle Challenge from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

The Vikings contingent will ring-off in the Best Buy Rotunda at Mall of America, while the Packers ring-off will take place at the Lambeau Field Atrium.

Vikings fans are encouraged to help beat the Packers by stopping by the Best Buy Rotunda to make a donation and collect autographs. For those who cannot attend, donations can be made online at

To add to the excitement, Mall of America will video stream the action from the ring-off at the Packers’ site.

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McKinnie Playing At Pro Bowl Level

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2009 – 9:49 am

Fan voting for the 2010 Pro Bowl has begun. Over the previous 3 seasons, Vikings fans have helped 9 players earn Pro Bowl honors a combined 17 times. The usual suspects – DE Jared Allen, G Steve Hutchinson, RB Adrian Peterson and DT Kevin Williams – will gain heavy consideration against this year. But there is another Viking who deserves your Pro Bowl vote just as much.

LT Bryant McKinnie, who has yet to earn a Pro Bowl nod during his 8-year Vikings career, is playing well again this season. McKinnie plays a premium position because he is largely responsible for protecting the blindside of QB Brett Favre and because he goes up against the opposing team’s best pass rusher on a weekly basis.

So far this season, McKinnie’s all-star level play has allowed the Vikings to yield successful results on offense. McKinnie has given up just 1 sack so far this season, and Favre is making good use of the time McKinnie has afforded him. Heading into this week’s game against Green Bay, Favre has a 102.2 passer rating and is 6th in the NFL with 12 TD passes.

But McKinnie’s solid play benefits more than just Favre and the passing game. The Vikings have also been able to produce with the ground game behind the blocking of McKinnie and G Steve Hutchinson. When running to the left, the Vikings have averaged 4.79 yards per carry and have totaled 374 yards. On top of that, Peterson ranks 2nd in the NFL in rushing with 687 yards and the Vikings rank tied for 4th in the NFL with 9 rushing TDs.

In retrospect, one can argue McKinnie should’ve already earned a Pro Bowl berth. He’s blocked for 4 of the top 6 single-season rushers in team history as well as 3 Vikings teams that have ranked in the top 5 offensively.  He’s also been durable, starting 109 straight games since entering the NFL as the #7 overall pick in 2002.

As you can see, McKinnie’s past performance has been outstanding for the Vikings. But his play this season has been as good as any other time in his career. And for that, he is deserving of a vote on your Pro Bowl ballot.

Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 1 Comment » Mailbag Is Posted

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2009 – 8:00 am

This week’s Mailbag feature has been posted. You can read it by clicking here. The Mailbag is posted every Friday.

Do you have a question or a comment? Send your questions/comments to the Mailbag. You can submit your questions/comments to me by sending an email to

I can’t post every question/comment, but I’ll answer them all.

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Frazier Mindful Of Packers Explosive Passing Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 5:05 pm

Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Thursday that he wishes it was Adrian Peterson rushing 51 times and Brett Favre throwing 18 passes instead of the other way around against the Steelers last week.

While the Vikings preferred mode of operation is to establish the run and then just keep running it, the Packers have a different thought in mind. And considering how explosive their passing offense can be, one can’t blame them for preferring the air over ground.

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers already has 24 passes of 20-plus yards, which ranks him tied for the 5th in the NFL. Of the QBs above him, all but 1 (Drew Brees) have played in 7 games compared to Rodgers’ 6.

Rodgers’ top targets are his starting WRs – Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. While it was Jennings who emerged last year with 1,292 receiving yards and 9 TDs, it’s Driver who has led the way this season.

Driver, a favorite target of Favre’s when he was wearing green and gold, currently ranks tied for 3rd among all NFL offensive players with 9 receptions of 20+ yards. In addition, Jennings averages 44.8 yards per 20+-yard reception.

“They’ve had a lot of explosive plays this season,” Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier explained. “We have to be mindful of it and we have to be able to defend those deep balls with Jennings and Driver.”

Last week against the Steelers, the Vikings gave up a 40-yard TD to rookie WR Mike Wallace and another 45-yard reception to WR Santonio Holmes. Those 2 plays represent an area in which the Vikings defense has struggled this year – giving up the big passing play.

The Vikings have allowed 27 receptions of 20+ yards, more than any other team in the league. On top of that, 7 of their 10 TD passes allowed have been of the 20+-yard variety, which is 4th highest in the NFL.

With a trip to Lambeau for a battle against an explosive passing game such as the Packers, Frazier’s bunch must improve in this area. But there’s reason to expect Frazier’s group will find a way to neutralize Rodgers and the Packers passing offense.

After allowing Ravens QB Joe Flacco to accumulate 385 passing yards in Week 6, most of them after CB Antoine Winfield left the game with a foot injury, Frazier and his unit turned around the next week without their star CB and held Pittsburgh’s passing offense to just 175 yards.

In addition, the Vikings held Driver and Jennings to a combined 86 yards on 7 receptions in the Vikings and Packers first meeting back in Week 4.

Frazier said on Thursday that aside from being in the proper position and executing the proper technique in coverage, the Vikings must also improve on one other area.

“And tackling; we’ve got to tackle if they make a catch,” Frazier emphasized. “You don’t want a 15-yard in or a 6-yard slant to be a 30-yard completion. You just make the tackle and give us a chance to play the next play and we’ll be fine.

“That’s what we’re emphasizing with our guys; no plays over the top.”

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Vikings-Packers Game No. 1 On NFL Ticket Exchange’s Buzz Index

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 29, 2009 – 3:46 pm

According to a press release issued by Ticketmaster, the Vikings-Packers game this Sunday is this week’s No. 1 matchup on NFL Ticket Exchange’s “Buzz Index,” which utilizes a proprietary algorithm incorporating site traffic, ticket demand, sales volume and ticket revenue to calculate each game’s popularity for the week.

*According to the NFL Ticket Exchange “Buzz Index”
1.    Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
2.    Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens
3.    Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys
4.    Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints Tickets
5.    Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

For more, click here.

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Berrian, Henderson Limited; Harvin Sits

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 3:25 pm

There were some changes to the Vikings injury report on Thursday. WR Bernard Berrian (hamstring) and LB E.J. Henderson (knee) were non-participants on Wednesday but both were back on the field Thursday and limited in practice. WR Percy Harvin, meanwhile, practiced yesterday but did not participate today because of an illness.

Other Vikings who were limited: QB Brett Favre (hip), LB Jasper Brinkley (hamstring), LB Ben Leber (calf), CB Karl Paymah (quad), WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) and FB Fahu Tahi (knee).

CB Antoine Winfield (foot) did not practice and DT Jimmy Kennedy (not injury related), who did not practice yesterday, was back today.

For the Packers, TE Jermichael Finley (knee), S Derrick Martin (hamstring) and C/G Jason Spitz (back) were held out for the 2nd consecutive day. T Chad Clifton (ankle), however, was limited and practiced for the 2nd consecutive day. Other limited participants on Thursday included QB Aaron Rodgers (foot), CB Charles Woodson (hip) and DE Jarius Wynn (hamstring).

FB Kory Hall (calf) and WR Jordy Nelson (knee) are listed as out while LB Clay Matthews, C Scott Wells (not injury related) and G Josh Sitton (hand) were full participants.

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Wrapping Up And Putting Away The 3-4 Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 12:38 pm

As the Vikings finish up the first half of their schedule this weekend in Green Bay, they might also be finishing up their battles against the 3-4 defensive scheme. Beginning in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns and continuing this week with the Packers, the Vikings have faced a 3-4 defense in 6 of the first 8 weeks of the season.

The scheme doesn’t necessarily add another level of difficulty – if it did then everyone would use it – but it does present unfamiliar looks for the Vikings, who don’t typically face the scheme as much.

“We’ve played quite a few in a row,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Thursday. “But obviously when you play that many in a row you get better at it, you get used to seeing it.”

Just as it is with facing different 4-3 schemes across the league, the 3-4 scheme has several different versions and each team presents its own set of challenges for opposing offenses.

“Each team presents different issues with their 3-4 and how they run it,” Bevell explained. “What type of guys they have on the edge, what type of big guys they have in the middle, if they reduce the front or not. Again this is a stout one that we’re playing (this week).”

Earlier in the week, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress described the Packers version of the 3-4 as more of a “New England” 3-4 – likening it to the Patriots scheme – as opposed to a “Pittsburgh” 3-4, which current Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has familiarity with from his time with the Steelers.

So even though the Vikings saw a 3-4 scheme against Baltimore in Week 6 and Pittsburgh last week, what the Purple sees this week could be significantly different.

One element in the Packers 3-4 scheme is a look that includes 5 LBs on the field at the same time, a tactic they’ve used periodically this year. Against the Vikings in Week 4, Green Bay also used their nickel package to matchup with the Vikings 2-TE, 2-WR look, not a common tactic to use against such a heavy offensive set.

Another factor for the Vikings to consider is the way Green Bay will utilize one of their best defenders, Aaron Kampman. In Week 4, Kampman was relatively quiet against the Vikings, registering just 5 tackles but not a sack or pass defensed. In order to free him up against the Vikings this week, Green Bay may try a different tactic.

“I think they’re rushing him more, letting him put his hand in the dirt,” Bevell said when asked if he’s noticed any difference in how Green Bay has used Kampman since Week 4. “Get back to rushing the passer, which I think is helping him.”

To sum it up, Childress said, the Vikings challenge this week is to be prepared for anything the Packers might throw their way.

“(There are) no articles of war,” Childress acknowledged. “I don’t have any illusions. They could play their five-linebacker thing that we thought we would see that they played the week before against St. Louis. That could be the flavor of the day this week. So you have to prepare for all.”

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Tight Finishes Fuel Vikings-Packers Rivalry

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2009 – 11:32 am

The Vikings and Packers have one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries, largely because of their proximity to one another and the sheer number of times they’ve gone head-to-head. Border rivals since 1961, the Vikings-Packers have met 98 times, tied for the most games the Vikings have played against any opponent.

But also feeding this rivalry, especially as of late, is the gut-wrenching and fingernail biting games these teams have had. In the previous 24 matchups (1998-2009), including the 2004 Wild Card playoff, the series has been remarkably even with a combined score of 568-564 in favor of Minnesota. The average scores of those games have been 23.7 (Vikings) and 23.5 (Packers).

On top of that, 13 of the past 15 games have been decided by one score or less, including a 30-23 Vikings victory earlier this year and a tight 28-27 contest last season. The Vikings and Packers have gone to overtime on 5 occasions in this series, which is the most by the Vikings against any single opponent.

“I think that they have a great defense and every time we play them they bring out their best and we bring out our best, so it is going to be a battle,” Packers WR Donald Driver told Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday. “It is going to go down to the wire. That is how it always goes down. It is going to come down to a touchdown or a field goal. We just hope that we are going to execute and make the plays that we need to make.”

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