3 Things to Watch for During Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

| by Alex Groberman

The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings are set to do battle for the second time in less than a month tomorrow, starring in this week’s installment of Monday Night Football.

Although the 9-0 Packers are head and shoulders above the Vikings just about every regard, something about every time the defending champs take the field these days just screams “upset waiting to happen.”

Maybe it’s because of that atrocious Green Bay Packers defense that continues to allow turnover-prone offenses like the one the San Diego Chargers boast to take them the full 12 rounds, as they did in last weekend’s nail biter. Or, maybe it’s the weight of an undefeated start – the inherent idea that sooner or later, someone has to tame the beast.

All that aside, though, the Packers can ensure victory by committing themselves in three particular regards. So long as they do that, they’ll quietly move up to 10-0 and hand the Vikings their seventh loss of the year.

Keep an eye on the following three questions this Monday night:

Can the Packers stop Adrian Peterson? Although the defending champions have an absolutely porous pass defense, they likely won’t get burned too badly so long as they control Minnesota’s rushing game. The last time these two teams squared off, the outing proved to be a little too close for comfort – ultimately only getting decided by six points. The reason it was close was because the Packers refused to buckle down on Peterson, who finished the day with 175 yards and a score.

Can the Packers prevent Christian Ponder from exploding? Ponder is a good young talent, but his inexperience coupled with the absolute mess of an offensive line he’s working with isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Much of his attack, at this point in his unproven career, is formulated around handing the ball off to his Pro Bowl running back and then picking his moments to pass. The only way Ponder can do any damage whatsoever versus the admittedly weak Packers pass defense is if he somehow has the game of his life and plays above what his three touchdown, two interception and 554-yard through three games totals would indicate he’s capable of. It could happen, clearly – but that’s not where the smart money is.

Will Aaron Rodgers come back to earth? Last year’s Super Bowl MVP has been historically excellent throughout all 2011, and he’s a huge reason for why Green Bay’s blatant defensive holes haven’t become their undoing just yet. On the season, he’s racked up 24 touchdowns, three interceptions and 2,619 yards. He’s on track to throw for 5,238 yards and 48 touchdowns for the year. As long as he continues to be Superman for the Packers, their defense can be the ho-hum unit that every member of it acknowledges it is. But if he slows down even a little bit, those close games may ultimately come back to bite the undefeated defending champs.

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