Tale Of The Tape: Green Bay Packers At Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackHere’s an interesting development: Aaron Rodgers has clearly been one of the top three quarterbacks in the league throughout his tenure as the Green Bay starter. He remains at the top of his game in 2013, and the Packers are starting to find their stride. Rodgers, perhaps the most accurate passer in the game, is completing 65.0 percent of his passes and has a 13-4 TD-interception ratio.The debut of Josh Freeman for the Minnesota Vikings was eye opening. Freeman was simply miserable taking snaps for the quarterback-hungry team, completing 20-of-53 passes against the previously winless New York Giants. Freeman’s mechanics were awful, his accuracy was non-existent and the look of bewilderment on his face indicates that it will be quite a while before he gets up to speed.
- OffenseThe Packers have something going for them on offense that they haven’t had for years -- a running game. Powerful Eddie Lacy has run for 352 yards and has a 4.2 yards per carry average and can get the job done between the tackles. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson is one of the most dependable pass catchers in the league. Wideout James Jones (knee) could return this week.The Vikings abandoned their running game because the New York Giants were putting eight men close to the line of scrimmage and seemingly taking away the run. Adrian Peterson needs just a little bit of help from the passing game, but he did not get it. Former Packer wideout Greg Jennings would like nothing more than to burn his old team. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has toughness and good hands.
- DefenseThe Packers are a better defensive team this year than they have been in recent years, even though their best player Clay Matthews (broken thumb) is out. They are far more physical than they have been in the past and it shows in their run defense, which ranks third in the NFL. Linebacker A.J. Hawk has a team-leading 54 tackles and 3.0 sacks.A schism could be developing on the Vikings because the defense is playing tough, competitive football, while the offense looks pitiful. It may not show in the rankings – the Vikings are 27th overall – but they are selling out every play. Middle linebacker Erin Henderson leads the way with 54 tackles, while outside backer Chad Greenway is right behind with 53. Defensive end Jared Allen has a team-high 4.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Packers have been quite competitive on special teams, as their coverage units have generally done a good job of preventing long returns. Placekicker Mason Crosby was awful in 2012, but he is doing a much better job this year as he has made 14-of-16 FG attempts.The Vikings’ only score in their Week Seven Monday night loss to the Giants was an 86-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels. He joined Cordarrelle Patterson, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown earlier in the year. Blair Walsh (hamstring) finally missed a 50-yard-plus attempt after making 12 straight.
This is a crucial game for Leslie Frazier. It’s one thing to give Josh Freeman a tryout against the winless Giants; it’s quite another to start him in a divisional game against the Pack. This looks like a dominating Green Bay win. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor