Preview: Packers at Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers were expected to battle for the NFC North title, but both clubs are looking up at the Chicago Bears with six games to play. Although both teams are coming off losses, Green Bay is in the more desperate position, sitting one game behind the second-place Vikings and winless in five road games entering Sunday night’s matchup at Minnesota.
“I definitely didn’t expect to be sitting where we’re sitting but our record is what it is,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Obviously, Minnesota has a strong team. They’re probably surprised where they’re sitting as well. So I don’t think either of us are out of (it).” Rodgers was hobbled by a knee injury during the team’s first matchup, when the Vikings scored 22 fourth-quarter points in Week 2 in a game that ended in a 29-29 tie. Minnesota, which reached the NFC title game last season, had a chance to move atop the division last weekend but dropped a 25-20 decision in Chicago to fall 1 1/2 games behind the Bears. “We’re a good team. We know that,” Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “It’s just about going out there and doing it. Quit talking about it. … We’ve got to point the finger at ourselves, so we’ve just got to get the job done, period.”
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Vikings -3. O/U: 47.5
ABOUT THE PACKERS (4-5-1): Rodgers keeps putting up big numbers — 19 touchdowns against only one interception — and threw for 332 yards and two scores last week in a 27-24 loss at Seattle, but again was unable to end the road skid. Running back Aaron Jones was held to 40 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries but set season highs with five receptions for 63 yards and a score against the Seahawks. Tight end Jimmy Graham did not practice due to a broken thumb sustained against Seattle, but Rodgers has been locked in on Davante Adams, who set a season high with 166 yards on 10 catches last week. The Packers are No. 5 against the pass (223.0 yards) but are dealing with multiple injuries in the secondary.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (5-4-1): Minnesota has struggled offensively for the past three games as Kirk Cousins has five touchdowns passes and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns in losses to New Orleans and Chicago. Wide receiver Adam Thielen failed to score for the first time in seven games last week but still went over 1,000 yards while Stefon Diggs had a season-high 13 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. The running game, however, was non-existent against the Bears as Dalvin Cook was limited to 12 yards on nine carries. The Vikings’ defense ranks sixth against the pass (226.0 yards), will get a boost with the expected return of linebacker Anthony Barr after a three-game absence.
1. Rodgers had 26 TDs and zero interceptions in his past 10 division games.
2. Thielen had 12 catches for 131 yards and a TD in the Week 2 matchup.
3. Adams has a TD catch in his last three against Minnesota.