The passing game takes center stage for the Vikings this week as Green Bay comes to town.
Everybody knows that Adrian Peterson is the best player for the Minnesota Vikings, and that he's going to likely rack up a substantial amount of yardage on the ground against Green Bay this weekend. And while he has a chance to break the single-season record for rushing yards, I firmly believe that he will not be the deciding factor in this game for the Vikings. Much like the first game between the Packers and Vikings, the result will likely fall on the shoulders of the Vikings' passing game and pass defense.
QB Christian Ponder
Really, Ponder's play will likely be the biggest factor in deciding this game. If he can be effective on play-action and avoid making poor decisions with the ball, he puts the Vikings in a solid position to win. If he plays like he did at Lambeau Field, letting Packer defenders get their hands on the football, Minnesota has virtually no chance.
TE Kyle Rudolph
The big tight end is really the only semi-consistent receiving threat that the Vikings have had since Percy Harvin was shut down for the season. He had a good game in these teams' first meeting, with six catches for 51 yards and a score, but he was too often stared down by Ponder as the only receiver he looked to. If Ponder can get other receivers involved in the game plan, Rudolph could have a bigger day on Sunday.
LT Matt Kalil
Kalil had an easier task in Week 13, matching up against Dezman Moses and Frank Zombo. Now the rookie tackle gets to deal with Clay Matthews instead, as Matthews has racked up three sacks in his two games since returning from injury. Plus, Matthews' return has coincided with much improved play from the Packers' run defense. Kalil's play against Matthews and company will be crucial for both the run and pass to be effective for Minnesota.
With both Brian Robison and Jared Allen banged up slightly, I expect Griffen to see a lot of snaps at defensive end. His play in relief will be critical for the Vikings' defense to not lose a step when the other ends the take snaps off.
We know about Antoine Winfield being an excellent slot corner; we also know that Chris Cook is solid on the outside. But with Jordy Nelson returning to the lineup, the Vikings will need two solid outside corners in their nickel package, and Robinson will be called upon to cover either Nelson or James Jones. His play on one of the talented Packer wideouts will be critical for the Vikings' defense.