Can Minnesota run the ball? Can Minnesota stop the pass?
It looks like the line favors the Packers by 1. Only the NY Jets vs. Buffalo game has a lower over/under and is expected to have less scoring. The Packers aren't going to run against Minnesota because they have the best run defense in the NFL, plus NT Pat Williams killed the Packers in both games last season, and the Packers haven't run the ball very well this season against anybody. Minnesota's run offense has been very good this season, led by the outstanding RB Adrian Peterson, but the return of inferior 2006 starting RB Chester Taylor might take some carries away from Peterson and could help the Packers. QB Kelly Holcomb provides only a replacement level performance, but that is still an upgrade over the struggling and injured QB Tarvaris Jackson who was bad in his first 2007 starts and awful when he started against the Packers in 2006. Their top WR, Bobby Wade, is averaging a dismal 32 yards/game in 2007. The injuries to DE Cullen Jenkins and DT Corey Williams, who provide the main push for the Packers interior pass rush, and starting CBs Al Harris and Charles Woodson, have weakened the pass defense, but Minnesota does not appear able to take advantage of it. The Packers offense will have to be able to pass, which they should be able to do, but Minnesota's pass rush is improved from 2006 having already recording 11 sacks in the first 3 games of 2007. Still Minnesota has allowed QBs Joey Harrington (71.9%), Jon Kitna (66.7%), and Damon Huard (69%) to complete a lot of passes against them so QB Brett Favre should be able to find some open receivers. But it won't matter if Minnesota can put together long, clock killing drives on the ground, that lead to scores and keeps the Packers offense off the field. However the Packers run defense played well against RB LaDainian Tomlinson last week and RB Brian Westbrook had fewer yards against the Packers then against either Washington or Detroit, so the Packers should be able to stop or hold up Minnesota's running game. The Packers should win this game, but the main player that held the Packers back in their last game against Minnesota was Favre. Minnesota would have been shut out except Favre got impatient and threw an interception that was returned for a TD. Minnesota will win this game if Favre has multiple turnovers and they are able to eat up the clock with Peterson. The Packers will win by moving the ball through the air, limiting their turnovers, and keeping Minnesota's running game in check.