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Preview: Minnesota at Green Bay

Over the last two weeks, both games have not gone at all like I expected. I did expect the Packers to win both of them and I got some other things right, but I didn't expect QB Brett Favre and the receivers would torch Denver's great cornerbacks and I didn't expect the game in Kansas City would turn into a shoot out. So I'm not coming into this week's predictions with a lot of confidence.

This game should be high scoring with a few big plays from Favre, a couple from RB Adrian Peterson, and a couple of Favre turnovers. Still the Packers will be able to pass the ball and survive a shootout. Packers 28, Minnesota 21. The following rankings are from Football Outsiders and NFL.com:

Teams FO Ranking NFL Ranking
Packers Rushing Offense 16 32
Minnesota Rushing Defense 2 2

Although the Packers rushing offense isn't as bad as it seems, there is no way the Packers will have any success running the ball. DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams have killed the Packers in recent games, and LB E.J. Henderson is a run stopping force.

Teams FO Ranking NFL Ranking
Minnesota Rushing Offense 5 1
Packers Rushing Defense 5 8

This should be the marquee battle of the game. Can the Packers solid run defense stop RB Adrian Peterson? He killed them in the Metrodome earlier this season. Although his record setting game last week was done indoors, his previous 200+ yard game was outside in Chicago. I don't see an obvious solution here, so it will be interesting what defensive coordinator Bob Sanders draws up to stop him.

Teams FO Ranking NFL Ranking
Packers Passing Offense 9 2
Minnesota Passing Defense 20 31

This should be the area where the Packers have a lot of success. It might be better if RB Brandon Jackson starts in place of RB Ryan Grant because Jackson is the most dangerous running back as a receiver and the Packers won't be able to run the ball anyway. Minnesota is even at a bigger disadvantage with CB Antonie Winfield hurting. With Minnesota FS Darren Sharper's ability to play the deep ball, he picked off one Favre pass in their last meeting that was called back on a penalty, Mike McCarthy will probably attack the middle and with the slant pass.

Teams FO Ranking NFL Ranking
Minnesota Passing Offense 23 30
Packers Passing Defense 16 20

The Packers pass defense is struggling, but Minnesota's pass offense helps all teams feel better. Former Badger QB Brooks Bollinger should get the start because he's the only QB not hurt, but he did have some success passing against San Diego last week. However, this week LT Bryant McKinnie is hurting and so is WR Sydney Rice. The injury to Rice is probably the bigger blow because he torched CB Jarrett Bush earlier this season. Both McKinnie and Rice should play, but neither will at be 100%.

Teams FO Ranking
Packers Special Teams 14
Minnesota Special Teams 9

It might seem like Minnesota's special teams are on a slide after giving up a 109 yard TD return on a missed FG last week vs. San Diego, but Brad Childress shouldn't have called for the long attempt. It doesn't have an effect on how the unit is playing. Their kick return team is excellent because Peterson has been the return man, but maybe that will change now that he is the starting tailback. K Mason Crosby has been better since his awful game against Washington, and maybe WR Koren Robinson perks up as a return man against his former team.