Nov 10, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Damion Square (77) pressures Green Bay Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien (16) in the third quarter at Lambeau Field. The Eagles won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Lombardi Ave is one of the top sources on the internet for information about the Green Bay Packers. So it is fitting that I talked with Dan Dahlke of Lombardi Ave about the upcoming game between the Vikings and the Packers on Sunday.
Here are the five questions I asked him:
1) The Packers have dropped three straight since losing Aaron Rodgers to his collarbone injury. What will have to happen differently for Scott Tolzien lead this team to a win on Sunday?
"Nov 10, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; A Green Bay Packers fan holds up an Aaron Rodgers sign during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field. Philadelphia won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports"
Tolzien has shown he can make the throws to move the ball on the field. He’s played pretty well for a guy just recently coming off the practice squad, but he’s thrown five interceptions in the two games he’s played in. The turnovers have been costly and kept the team from remaining competitive in the games. Tolzien needs to do a better job protecting the ball. But to be fair, the rest of the team needs to step up as well. The Packers have struggled to get the running game going the past two weeks and a solid ground game would really help out Tolzien. The defense also needs to eliminate giving up big plays and find ways to turn the ball over.
2) What are the major differences between the Packers defense that the Vikings faced in week 8 and the squad that they will face this week?
"Nov 17, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) sacked by Green Bay Packers linebacker Brad Jones (59) and Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports"
Since the last time the two teams met, the Packers defense has seemed to lost some of its confidence. They put together pretty strong performances over the team’s four-game winning streak, but since Rodgers went down, coincidently the defense has struggled as well. They’ve given up way too many big passing plays over the past three weeks and that has really been killing them. Their secondary needs to step it up, but they have been dealing with some injuries as of late. Their top cover corner, Sam Shields, may not play with a hamstring injury. Second-year man Casey Hayward, who led the team in interceptions last year, has already been ruled out.
On the bright side, the Packers will have a healthier Clay Matthews Sunday. The last time they played the Vikings Matthews was sidelined with a broken thumb. Matthews is still a bit limited on the field. He’s wearing a brace on his right hand, but as the weeks progress he’s steadily getting healthier and can better use both hands on the field.
3) If the Packers lose this game to Minnesota, do you feel that Green Bay would still have a solid chance at making the playoffs considering the competition in the NFC North?
No, I don’t. This is a must-win for them. Currently, they sit at .500 and remain a game behind the Bears and Lions in the division. The Packers need to win all their remaining division games, but I don’t think they’ll beat the Lions on Thanksgiving without Rodgers in the lineup. This week is their best chance to take a step forward. If they lose against Minnesota, that will put them at 5-6 heading to Detroit just four days later. Best case scenario Rodgers returns in December, and if the Packers are 5-7 at this point, then their playoff chances look unlikely even if they win out to finish the season. They have to win at home this week.
4) Who is one player that most Vikings fans aren’t aware of that they should learn their name prior to this game?
"Nov 17, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Andre Brown (35) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Brad Jones (59) during the second quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports"
I’ll give you one on each side of the ball. On defense, starting inside linebacker Brad Jones is coming off a great performance against the Giants where he recorded 13 tackles and one sack. He’s the Packers most versatile linebacker. He’s solid against the run and athletic enough to be effective in pass defense. He’s dealt with some injuries this season and has missed some time, but he appears to be back to full health and playing just as good as ever. Jones will be instrumental in containing Adrian Peterson on Sunday.
"Nov 10, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Roc Carmichael (21) tackles Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin (11) during the game at Lambeau Field. Philadelphia won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports"
On offense, look out for wide receiver Jarrett Boykin. At the beginning of the season he was at the bottom of the depth chart at the receiver position. Because of injuries, he’s seen a lot of playing time the past several weeks, and he’s performed really well. He currently ranks second on the team in receptions (29), and since week seven, he’s had two games over 100 yard receiving and has averaged 15.6 yards per reception. During a season where the Packers have been decimated with injury, especially on offense, Boykin has been a pleasant surprise.
5) What is your prediction for an outcome and final score of this game?
"Nov 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports"
This will be the first true cold-weather game at Lambeau Field this season, and I think it will be an ugly one. Both teams are dealing with a significant number of injuries and have had some issues at the quarterback position. I think this could really be anyone’s game. The team that withstands all the injuries and doesn’t turn the ball over will win. It will come down to whoever makes fewer mistakes between Tolzien and Christian Ponder.
Being that the game is at home, I give the Packers a slight edge (plus, I am a bit of a homer). I’ll take the Packers over the Vikings, 20-17.