Packers vs. Vikings: Three things I'll be watching for
The Green Bay Packers (7-4) will host the Minnesota Vikings (6-5) in a key NFC north division battle Sunday at Lambeau Field. If the Vikings win, they will pull even with the Packers in the division, but will have a leg up on the tiebreaker situation as it pertains to the playoffs. Below are a few things I'll be watching for:
Without Bryan Bulaga, the Packers offensive line was really put to the test by the New York Giants. Aaron Rodgers was sacked, hit or hurried on more than half of his dropbacks in that game, and the offense failed to establish a rhythm because of it. Against the Vikings, I'll be watching to see how Mike McCarthy structures the game-plan to account for their pass rush. Will he roll the pocket away from Jared Allen? Will he incorporate more play-action or screen passes? If the Packers are going to succeed in the playoffs, they must prove they can handle a quality front four.
The Return of #85
Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings is finally healthy and will be ready to go against the Vikings. What I'll be watching for is how many snaps Jennings receives, and if he can finish the game without being injured again. It's been a forgettable last 12 months for the Packers receiver - he's suffered from nagging injuries, concussions, surgery etc. I don't think we'll see much of the 5 wide receiver sets against Minnesota, but Jennings return gives Mike McCarthy additional flexibility in the offensive play-calling.
No wacky headline needed here. Packers kicker Mason Crosby has a great opportunity against the Vikings to show he's conquered the yips that have plagued him all season. I don't care how long the field goals are, or what the conditions - Crosby needs to get back in a groove. He'll have 70,000+ at Lambeau in his corner, anxious to reward a good kick with applause.