MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-5)
at GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-4)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Green Bay -7.5, Total: 46.5
Minnesota looks for a rare win over a division rival when it visits Green Bay on Sunday.
The Packers are 9-3 SU (8-4 ATS) in this series since 2006, winning four in a row SU over Minnesota (3-1 ATS). But Green Bay is just 2-3 ATS at home this year. The Vikings are 1-4 SU and ATS on the road, including three straight double-digit losses. They fell 45-7 at Lambeau Field a year ago, with QB Christian Ponder going 16-for-34 for just 190 yards. Ponder will be missing top WR Percy Harvin (ankle) on Sunday, while the Packers' best receiver, Greg Jennings (abdominal surgery), is set to play for the first time since Week 4.
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Ponder completed just 43.9% of his throws in two games against Green Bay last year, but he kept his team close last October with 2 TD passes in a 33-27 home loss. But in his past two road games (at Seattle and Chicago), he's thrown for a pathetic 3.4 yards per pass, needing 65 attempts to gain 222 yards. However, Green Bay's pass defense has not been good (22nd in NFL, 244 YPG allowed) and it will be missing its two best players in the secondary -- CB Sam Shields (shin) and S Charles Woodson (collarbone). Without Harvin on the field, Ponder will continue to rely on TE Kyle Rudolph (7 TD this year) and rookie WR Jarius Wright, who was targeted 10 times last week. He also used Adrian Peterson heavily in the passing game with seven targets. Although the Packers have a quality run-stop unit (104 YPG allowed, 11th in NFL), they have major injury woes with LBs Clay Matthews (hamstring, out) and Terrell Manning (shoulder, questionable), and DLs Ryan Pickett (quad, questionable) and C.J. Wilson (knee, doubtful) all banged up. Peterson has been bothered by a shoulder injury, but that won't prevent him from getting his typical heavy workload. He has usually run well in this series with 1,033 yards (5.1 YPC) and 7 TD in 10 career meetings. A heavy dose of Peterson should also keep turnovers in check, an area of weakness for the Vikings who have 2+ giveaways in six of the past seven contests.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is coming off his worst game since September, completing just 14-of-25 passes for 219 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in the 38-10 loss to New York. But playing the Vikings are just what the doctor ordered, as he's thrown for 2,172 yards (272 YPG, 8.7 YPA), 19 TD and just 3 INT in eight career starts in this series. He's thrown 11 TD and 0 INT in the past three meetings with Minnesota. Jennings has scored a touchdown in each of the past five games versus the Vikings, totaling 486 yards and 7 TD. Rodgers also has three other great receivers at his disposal in Jordy Nelson (team-high 648 rec. yds), Randall Cobb (team-best 58 catches) and James Jones (team-high 8 TD catches). This talent has helped mask the weak running game (3.8 YPC) that ranks 23rd in the NFL with 101 rushing YPG. The top two backs of James Starks (3.4 YPC) and Alex Green (3.1 YPC) have combined for zero touchdowns over 153 carries as neither one has emerged as a capable featured back. The Vikings defense has been average in both areas, ranking 13th against the pass (225 YPG) and 15th in rushing defense (112 YPG).