Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Green Bay needs to do to beat the Vikings this week

The hype is getting more deafening than that dude with the viking horn in the Metrodome.  The match-up we've all been looking forward to is finally here on Monday night.  And I'm pulling a late nighter to break it all down for you, cause that's the kind of dedication you've come to expect from me in my three-week blogging career.

So, in addition to my normal post-game trifecta of insights, I'm doing my first pre-game post on the three keys to this week's showdown at the Mall of America. I've busted out my favorite new Packer schwag to honor our legendary former quarterback, pulled out my keyboard, and documented what I see as the three keys to victory.

1) Shut down the fans.  I've never to the Metrodome, but it can apparently get pretty loud in there.  The storied venue, clinging stubbornly to a bygone era when domes were considered cutting edge, was rebranded recently as Mall of America Field.  "Branding the Metrodome as Mall of America Field connects two treasured Minnesota pastimes," said Maureen Bausch, executive vice president of business development at Mall of America.  "Getting fat and making an ass out of yourself."

Despite sharing a certain sympatico as the only other NFL franchise outside of Green Bay whose fans don headgear that makes them look neither tough nor intimidating, Minnesota fans make me cringe.  They jumped on the Favre bandwagon faster than Brad Childress can throw Tavaris Jackson under the team bus.  Here's some examples of what we're dealing with:

The only way to keep their XXXL butts in their seats with Cinnabons stuffed in their mouths is if the Packers can maintain possession for long, boring drives, and keep Favre and Peterson off the field.  Either that, or announce over the PA system that Sbarro is about to close the all-you-can-eat buffet.

2) Get the short passing game going.  OK, really what they need to do is get the running game going.  But with Clifton still questionable, Grant yet to get his groove on (though he's had some good games against the Vikings in the past), and facing one of the toughest run defenses in the NFL, I'm not sure they can realistically expect to run effectively.  If the Packers do what they did against the Rams and repeatedly put themselves in 3rd and long situations, it could get ugly.  They risk a horde of bearded fans coming out of their food coma long enough to put down their deep-fried Snickers bars, pick up their purple horns, and make some noise -- noise which will create confusion, chaos and turn-overs for Green Bay.

The Packers stats on avoiding 3rd and long so far this season do not look good.  According to STATS, Inc., the Packers' average yards-to-go on second down is 9.03, second-to-last in the NFL.  Stated another way, they are averaging less than one yard on first down.  And that's converting into long-yardage situations that they are not converting.  The Packers are just 33 percent on 3rd down conversions, 23rd in the league. Of those, they've faced a 3rd and 8+ yards 23 times -- of which they've only converted twice.

To avoid that situation, and a consequently depressing evening, I'm hoping McCarthy will realize he inadvertently smudged the section of his cheat sheet titled "Screens, slants and other short passes" with a jelly doughnut and start calling some of that stuff.  I'd love to see Jermichael Finley have a huge day.  I've been singing his praises since the Arizona pre-season game, along with most of the league.  If he's going to have a break-out, ship-me-a-bag-full-of-money kind of game, this is the perfect stage to do it.  Not sure yet if Brandon Jackson is going to be back, but he or Grant needs to get free for some dinks and dunks.  And the receivers need to be sure-handed with the short, hard passes.

3) Make Favre beat you.  The media talk track on Favre remains the same in Minnesota as it was in Green Bay for years.  All they can talk about is the final pass of the San Francisco game.  Lost in the ticker tape parade is the fact that Favre is 25th in the league right now in passing -- sharing company with the likes of Trent Edwards, Byron Leftwich, and Brady Quinn.  I have no doubt I'll have a tear in my eye when Favre is inducted into the Hall of Fame, but the reality in 2009 is he's just not that good of a quarterback.

Green Bay has to stop Adrian Peterson (can you put "12 in the box"??), and make Favre throw to win.  I've got to believe that results in at least a few turn-overs.  We've had relative success against Peterson (knocking on wood with one hand as I type with the other).  I was at the 2007 regular season game against the Vikings when Peterson was just bursting on to the scene.  Packers, with much of the same personnel, largely shut him down and won 34-0.  Our run defense has not been solid this year, currently ranking 23rd in the league with 128 yards per game on average.  But I feel like we actually match up reasonably well against Peterson -- solid front 3, with fast OLBs who can contain, and hard-hitting corners.  Having Bigby back would be a big help (don't think we will).  But if we can slow Peterson down (scheme like the wind, Dom!) we've got a great chance of winning this game -- then we can all go out and get Cinnabons.


  1. Just read that Brandon Jackson and Atari Bigby are both definitely out for Monday night


  3. Could this game be any bigger? It took Obama & chicago losing out on the Olympics to Rio to remove GB vs Vikes from the lead story on every ESPN segment. So did Rio win because maybe they are less corrupt than the city of Chicago and it's politicians? I personally can't stand Daley and felt joy hearing the news today thinking about the kick in the nuts it was for him to come in last in the voting.I do feel sorry for the folks in Chicago who were really looking forward to this and to those who could have got some work out of the deal, but maybe Chicago should fix their schools and keep kids from being murdered at such a high rate rather than worrying about swimming and the decathlon.

    Back to the Pack -- I am conflicted about Favre. I still can't believe that we got rid of a probowl QB, but I guess I have to let it go. What concerns me most about this game is our inability to block vs. their defensive line and A. Peterson racking it up (Cedric Benson went for 4.9 yards per carry over 29 carries!).

    It is going to be one wild one this Monday night..fasten your seatbelts boys. Mike -- I suggest not trying to embargo this game.

  4. 8 sacks! 8 sacks! 8 SACKS! uggh.

    happy for Favre that he could still showcase his talent - brutal watching our matador offensive line serve up Rogers.