Packers vs. Vikings Q&A: NFC North Rivalry Week
By Dan Dahlke
The Minnesota Vikings line up against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
It’s Vikings week, everybody.
The Green Bay Packers will travel to Minnesota Sunday night and play in the Metrodome one last time. There has been plenty of talk this week regarding Greg Jennings and his comments about the Packers organization and Aaron Rodgers. It doesn’t help the former Packers receiver chose the division-rival Minnesota Vikings in free agency this past offseason.
Jennings should have learned from Brett Favre that anything a Packer-turned-Viking says will be overly scrutinized by Packers nation.
Despite this overblown drama, there are plenty of other headlines dominating this divisional matchup.
The Packers’ roster health for one. Jermichael Finley‘s status has been a concern among teammates and Packers fans after suffering a neck injury, and we’re still a ways away from seeing Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, and Nick Perry on the field.
Minnesota also enters this week with plenty of roster concerns. It was reported earlier this week that in his Vikings debut, quarterback Josh Freeman suffered a concussion and will not start this week. Instead, the Packers will square off against Christian Ponder.
Adrian Peterson has also been dealing with some hamstring issues and is not at full health, and the Vikings defense is not the dominating force it has been in recent years.
The Vikings are not off to a good start this season, but they still have enough talent on their roster to be competitive. The Packers will not overlook them this week. It’s a divisional game and anything can happen.
To get an insider’s look at the Minnesota Vikings, we contacted Adam Carlson co-editor of The Viking Age. Adam has some interesting things to say about the Vikings’ quarterback situation, Jennings offseason comments, and how the Green Bay defense could stop Peterson Sunday night.
I hope you enjoy Adam’s insight in this week’s Q&A.
Packers vs. Vikings Q&A with Adam Carlson
Adrian Peterson. Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports photograph
1) The Vikings are off to a 1-5 start. What do you expect from them going forward this season?
At this point, the Vikings are just looking for young bodies that they can use going into the future. That was why they are pushing things so hard with Freeman and why they brought in Shaun Prater off waivers. I expect them to continue working with the young guys to find something that works going forward.But I also expect a lot more disappointment and heartbreak going forward. That loss to the Giants was not acceptable, and looking over the rest of the schedule makes it hard to see any more potential wins.
Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder. Joe Campearole USA Today Sports Photograph
2) The Vikings have had three different starting quarterbacks this season. What are your thoughts on their quarterback situation, and who would you start if you were Minnesota?
The quarterback situation in Minnesota is truly a circus. At this point, you have Josh Freeman (who clearly isn’t ready to start), Christian Ponder (who has had his confidence bruised and broken all year long), and Matt Cassel (who won’t be back after this year’s treatment). While this will be a season long audition for Freeman to win the job, Ponder’s familiarity makes him a good candidate to be the starter.
Honestly, I don’t think the starting quarterback matters too much until the Vikings can fix the issues with the offensive line, specifically the horrid play from the starting guards. But at this point, you might as well roll with Freeman since the Ponder experiment is over.
3) Adrian Peterson is the best back in the league. If you’re Green Bay’s defense, how would you gameplan to stop him?
I’m sure the Packers were watching closely at the Giants plan for containing Adrian Peterson. They brought pressure and filled gaps that made it very difficult for Adrian to find holes. Plus, Peterson is nursing a hamstring problem that is affecting his speed and elusiveness. If the Packers can contain last year’s MVP, their defense could be able to get several turnovers from Josh Freeman’s inexperience with the offense.
Jared Allen. Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports photograph
4) With players like Jared Allen and Chad Greenway, the Vikings have had great defenses the past few seasons. This year they’re near the bottom of the league in yards and points allowed. What is the main reason for this change?
Honestly, I believe that the main reason for the struggles defensively have to do with personnel. The Vikings defense looked much better last week against the Giants than they did earlier in the season, but the Packers aren’t the kind of team that makes the same mistakes as that New York squad does. Losing Antoine Winfield and having to play rookie Xavier Rhodes in the secondary really hurts.
The Vikings also have new starters at the middle linebacker position and weakside linebacker position, so time will be needed for those guys to adjust to the new roles and build team chemistry. Add to that the fact that Chris Cook struggles to stay healthy and star safety Harrison Smith is on IR, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Greg Jennings. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph
5) A lot was made of Greg Jennings’ comments about the Packers and Aaron Rodgers this offseason. What are your thoughts on what Jennings said? How do you feel the former Packer has played so far this season?
So far, I think Greg Jennings has been writing a lot of checks that he just hasn’t been able to cash recently. Not that it is all his fault, he can only work with the passes that are thrown to him, but outside of his one two-touchdown game this year, he has been relatively quiet. I have no problem with guys that talk smack as long as they can back it up, and so far, he hasn’t been able to back it up. Inept play at quarterback and a struggling offensive line don’t help his cause, either.
6) The Packers/Vikings rivalry is one of the most heated and intriguing in the NFL. What do you think makes this rivalry so great?
I thought about this for a long time, and the only really good reason I can think of for the Vikings/Packers rivalry is the fact that the two states share a border. Heck, the two teams play less than 300 miles apart! I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, so I got to see first hand that border war since Superior, Wisconsin is right on the other side of the bridge. To me, the whole “Favre” fiasco didn’t help things either. Heck, seems like some Packers fans still don’t forgive him for coming to Minnesota.
7) Finally, what are your expectations for this Sunday night when the Packers visit the Metrodome? Any final thoughts you’d like to leave with us?
The Packers are catching the Vikings at their all time low. This is a team that just lost to the winless Giants on a national stage. Now, the Vikings have to be in prime time again against a much more difficult team. Honestly, my expectations as a Vikings fan are low, but that hasn’t stopped the team from disappointing me so far this season. This could be a really tough game for me to watch as a Vikings fan.
I would like to thank Adam for taking the time to answer our questions. For more inside information on the Minnesota Vikings head on over to the The Viking Age.
Also, remember to check back in here at Lombardi Ave fifteen minutes prior to Sunday night’s game for our live game day chat.