It makes sense to deviate slightly from the usual We’ve Met Before format. For one thing, the Vikings and Packers played just three weeks ago. Further, I think most Vikings fans have more than enough memories from this series. Here’s the run-down:
Series: Packers lead 52-48-1
Last Meeting: Minnesota stayed with the Packers right to the end in rookie quarterback Christian Ponder’s first-ever start. The Vikings out-gained Green Bay, but two Ponder interceptions were key to a 20-0 Packers run in the second half. Green Bay scored on seven possessions, but the Vikings were able to hold them to field goals on four of those drives. If you’re into comparisons, note that San Diego also gave up seven scores to Green Bay—in that case, the Packers had six touchdowns and scored 45 points. Green Bay’s defense has given up 1,319 yards in its last three games (460 to San Diego, 435 to Minnesota, and 424 to St. Louis). The takeaway: Hold the Packers to field goals and turn you own long drives into touchdowns, and you can beat them! Ground-breaking, I know.
Streak(s): Green Bay has now won three straight. There have been five consecutive winning streaks of three or more games in theseries. Before this Packers three-gamer, the Vikings won three in a row in 2008 and 2009. Aaron Rodgers’ win in his first start in Week 1 of the 2008 season was the Packer’s fifth straight win against Minnesota. That was preceded by Minnesota’s 2004 wildcard playoff win and 2005 series sweep. Brett Favre and the Packers won three straight in 2003 and 2004. I’d like to think that means the Vikings are due for a three-gamer of their own.
Since the 1998 Vikings snapped that famous Lambeau Field home winning streak of the 1990s, Minnesota is a respectable(ish) 5-9 in Green Bay. Unfortunately, the Vikings are just 7-7 at home against the Packers since 1998.
Second starts: As we’ve talked about all too much on this site, Minnesota rarely has a “franchise quarterback.” The last guy who looked like one was Daunte Culpepper. Like Ponder, Culpepper had mixed results in his first start against the Packers. Culpepper had 276 yards and two touchdowns, but tossed three interceptions in a 26-20 loss (yes, Mitch Berger dropped a snap in that game and, yes, Antonio Freeman caught a touchdown pass in overtime). In his second start against Green Bay, Culpepper put up better numbers, throwing for 335 yards and three touchdowns and running for 42 yards and a touchdown. The Packers won this game, also.
Tarvaris Jackson somehow only played against the Packers twice in five seasons as a Viking. He was 0-2 with one touchdown and two interceptions. Rich Gannon was 1-1 in his first two Packer games, throwing two touchdowns but five interceptions. Brad Johnson? 0-2. Tommy Kramer, 0-2. Fran Tarkenton was at a slight disadvantage—Minnesota was an expansion team in his rookie season. The Packers crushed Minnesota in consecutive weeks in 1961, and Tarkenton threw no touchdowns in either game.
Monday Night Football: Minnesota and Green Bay didn’t play their first MNF game until 1997, but this game will mark the eighth such meeting in 15 years. The Vikings are 4-3 on the big stage against Green Bay—2-2 at Lambeau. The last five MNF meetings have been determined by a touchdown or less. The Vikings are 0-1 on Fridays and 1-1 on Thursdays against the Packers.
Charles Woodson is over-rated rant: Woodson has continued to grab interceptions and recover fumbles this season, but he is getting scorched by most receivers who line up across from him (including Eric Decker). This Green Bay Press-Gazette article from October 7 responded to Woodson giving up a huge day to Steve Smith with the phrase “So what?”—that is, the writer felt that Woodson’s two picks were worth more than Smith’s six catches for 156 yards. Probably true. Still, after rookies Cam Newton and Christian Ponder threw Woodson four of the easiest interceptions of his life (on plays where his receivers had him beat, no less) and Adrian Peterson ran over him a few times, I was thinking the same thing about Woodson’s interceptions stats…so what? I suggest attacking Woodson this week, as long as Ponder doesn’t “attack” him with passes right into his chest again.
Read about all of Week 10’s matchups at Brad’s blog.