Recently, I had the opportunity to have a question and answer session with Dan Dahlke of Lombardi Ave. Lombardi Ave is one of the best Green Bay Packers sites for information and part of the Fansided network. Dan lived most of his life in Wisconsin and grew up a Packers fan. He graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelors degree in English. He is an aspiring writer and avid sports fan.
Here are the five questions I asked Dan:
1) Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. How easily do you believe that he will be able to pick apart the Vikings secondary?
At this point, it’s hard to tell how effective the Packers passing game will be considering their injuries at receiver. They’ve lost Randall Cobb for 6-8 weeks, Jermichael Finley possibly for the season, and James Jones may sit out this week as well.
Without Cobb and Jones last week, Rodgers was still able to pass for 260 yards and three touchdowns against a good Cleveland Browns secondary. Reserve receiver, Jarrett Boykin, stepped up and had a big game. But it’s still tough to see how well the Packers offense will run without so many key playmakers.
Green Bay will most likely rely heavily on Eddie Lacy and their run game this week and use it to set up the pass. Rodgers should still put up some pretty good numbers, but with the injuries on offense, Rodgers has become much more of a game manager than a QB that will put up gaudy passing numbers.
2) The Packers are dealing with offensive line issues again this season. Are you concerned the Vikings pass rush will be able to make a big difference in this game?
Any time you play against the likes of Jared Allen you have too be at least a little worried about the Minnesota pass rush. The Packers young tackles will have their hands full with Allen and Brian Robison. Rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari will need to have a solid performance against one of the top pass rushers in the league in order for the Packers offense to be productive.
As a group, the Packers offensive line has improved each and every week. Overall, they’re much improved from last season. The pass protection has gotten better and their run blocking has been outstanding. If the Packers’ line can prevent Allen and Robison from really impacting the game, then their offense should get some good production in the game.
3) Josh Freeman was named the starting quarterback for this game. After his dismal performance on Monday Night Football against the Giants, is there any reason for the Packers defense to fear the Vikings pass game? (Note: this question was asked prior to discovering Freeman’s concussion)
Honestly, as a Packers fan there isn’t a lot that worries me about Josh Freeman at quarterback at this point. It’s obvious he’s still not comfortable in the Vikings offense.
However, once I heard Christian Ponder will get the start because Freeman suffered a concussion last week, I became a little more worried. I realize Ponder isn’t the greatest quarterback in the league, but historically, he’s played well against the Packers at home. Last year, in the season finale he posted a 120 passer rating in the win over the Packers at home.
I guess I’d rather have the Packers play against Freeman who’s still learning the offense than Ponder, who has proven he can play a good game against Green Bay. Either way, the Vikings have plenty of weapons in the passing game for the Packers defense to account for. Green Bay knows Greg Jennings can be effective in the slot and Cordarrelle Patterson has the speed to be a threat downfield. However, I think the biggest challenge for the Packers defense could by second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph. The Packers have struggled defending pass-catching tight ends over the middle of the field in the past. How well the Packers defend Rudolph could be one of the keys in the game.
4) In the past, the Packers have struggled to contain “the beast” Adrian Peterson. Do you think he’ll have a big game against Green Bay this week?
If the Packers defense can hold Peterson under 120 yards rushing, I’ll be happy. They just need to prevent him from having that dominant performance. He had games of 210 and 199 rushing yards last season against Green Bay. These were definitely killers for the Packers defense.
However, this season Green Bay has really improved their run defense. They’re ranked third in the league and have only allowed 79 yards rushing a game so far this season. This is a big improvement from the 118.5 yards a game they allowed last year. I’m sure their defensive rankings will slip a bit after facing Peterson this week, but they have to just keep him from really impacting the game.
This is not an easy task for anyone. Containing Peterson will be the Packers number one goal this Sunday night. We’ll see how well their newly revived run defense holds up against one of the most talented backs the NFL’s seen in recent memory.
5) What is your prediction for an outcome and final score of the game?
Honestly, I’m terrible at predicting the final score of games. I do believe the game will be closer than people expect. I know the Vikings go into this week 1-5, but they still have talent on their roster and when the Packers and Vikings play you can pretty much throw out team records.
Having said that, I do think the Packers will win in Minnesota this Sunday, but I think it will be a hard-fought contest. I think turnovers will play a key role in the game. If the Packers can protect Rodgers and not turn the ball over, then I like their chances in winning this one.
On defense, the Packers need to prevent Peterson from getting those explosive runs over ten yards that can really shift the momentum in the game. They also need to force Ponder into making rash decisions when throwing the ball and try to be opportunistic when he makes ill-advised throws.
Just for the heck of it here is my final score prediction: GB 27, MIN 17
A big thank you to Dan at Lombardi Ave for taking the time to answer these questions. You can catch the contest between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.