Apparently, this week the Packers play a big game. Funny, I hadn't seen any media coverage talking about it.
Before I get into my deeper matchups, let's briefly recap the big issues that everyone's talking about this week. Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers, the Packers' O-line, Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, Brett Favre. It makes me want to puke maroon and gold--which, incidentally, are the colors of the team that the other important Wisconsin football team is visiting in the Twin Cities this weekend. At least they get to play outside.
Now that I have that crap out of the way, it's time to take a deeper look at matchups that could influence the course of this game.
1. Percy "Cheech" Harvin vs. Packers' secondary, kick coverage
Harvin has quickly become a dynamic player, far faster than I expected. His speed immediately makes him a weapon in the return game, and it has allowed him to adjust to the NFL well in his rookie year. He reminds me of DeSean Jackson in Philly a year ago. In my Bears preview, I singled out Devin Hester's speed to be a potential factor in that game, and he burned Nick Collins for a long touchdown. I'm concerned that Harvin could have a similar impact on this game in a receiving capacity. Where I'm equally concerned about Harvin is in the return game. Despite a renewed focus on special teams, the Pack's kick coverage has been less than stellar. They'll need to keep Harvin bottled up if the Packers are to win this game.
2. Packers' RBs and TEs
With the enormous pressure likely to be put on Aaron Rodgers by the Vikings' pass rush, he will need to get the ball out of his hands quickly. I expect that the Ryan Grant, John Kuhn, Donald Lee, and Jermichael Finley should get a larger-than-average proportion of Rodgers' passes this week, as he looks to dump off the ball quickly into the flat. Screen passes could be a key part of McCarthy's arsenal as well.
Furthermore, these players will be called upon frequently to help the struggling offensive line block. I expect their level of effectiveness in the blocking game to be the key difference between a 300-yard, 2 TD effort from Rodgers or a 150-yard, 3-INT game.
3. Coaching Matchup
A lot has been made of the Mike McCarthy-Brad Childress debate, and rightfully so. Each coach has had his criticisms, and most of them are well-founded. What may determine this game is the halftime adjustments that each coach makes for his team. I expect to see a very different game in the first half than in the second. The last thing I'll say is that I'm glad that this face isn't roaming the sideline for my team:
Whatever the outcome, I'm looking forward to an entertaining game Monday night, spent with a large group of friends decked out in Green and Gold at my house. I expect to drink frequently when Brad Childress looks like a deer in headlights, and hopefully even more so when ol' #4 takes some sacks..