By popular demand, here is my Vikings-Packers game preview. I hope all enjoy. If you like this, you can check out similar posts at Checking the Numbers.
In perhaps the most intriguing game of the year, the Green Bay Packers will travel to Minnesota to take on the Brett Favre led Vikings. This will be the first time that Favre has played his old team, and the second time in my memory where a young star quarterback has faced the icon that he replaced. In the 90's, the 49ers, with Steve Young, faced Joe Montana and Chiefs. That time, Montana came out on top. Now, it will be Aaron Rodgers facing his old teammate. Will Favre get his revenge on the Packers, or will Rodgers help Green Bay fans forget about Brett? (Ok, I know Packers fans will never forget Brett.)
For all of the storylines surrounding this game, it will still come down to who plays the best and takes advantage of their opportunities. By reviewing the statistics for each team (from Pro-Football-Reference.com) up to this point in the season, we may get a better idea of who we will win this game.
I have pulled the per game numbers for each team so that we can do a head to head comparison of their respective offensive and defensive numbers so far this year. I also have each team's offensive and defensive ranks in both points and yards after the first 3 weeks. Then, to help give context these numbers, I have the average offensive and defensive rankings of both teams' opponents, again for both yards and points.
First, the head to head comparisons:
|Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||GB - Min|
Per Game Averages So Far This Season
Offensively, these teams are surpisingly even. Their averages in points scored and yards gained are very close. So far this year, the Vikings favor the run while Green Bay favors the pass. That is not surprising, with Adrian Peterson running the ball for Minnesota. The differences in both are pretty close, with the Packers passing for about 34 more yards per game while the Vikings rush for 38 more yards per game.
Defensively, to this point the Vikings have the decided edge (except in points per game, with only a 2 point advantage there). They allow 76 fewer yards per game than Green Bay, about 40 fewer passing yards and 37 fewer rushing yards. The Packers do force more turnovers. These differences may reflect Dom Capers' new defensive system, which is confusing and disruptive. But, because it's also new to the Packers, players may be out of place from time to time, allowing more yards.
Having looked at raw stats, here are team rankings in terms of offense and defense for both points and yards.
|Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings|
|Offense Pts Rk||6||4|
|Offense Yds Rk||22||18|
|Defense Pts RK||18||15|
|Defense Yds Rk||19||4|
Both teams are ranked considerably higher in offensive points scored than yards gained. This is probably a reflection of strong return games and the amount of turnovers that their defenses force. The Vikings average 14.9 yards per punt return and 32.5 per kick return, while the Packers average a less spectacular 6.3 and 26, respectively. But the Packers are causing 3 turnovers per game, 2 for the Vikings.
Finally, let's look at their opponents' average rankings to this point in the season.
|2009 Opponents' Average Ranks|
|Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings|
There is not a huge difference in rankings between Green Bay and Minnesota's opponents. But, the Vikings do have somewhat lower average opponents rankings, particularly on defense.
While this data does not give a clear favorite, it does show that the Vikings have performed better defensively given similar competition. Based on that, I have a feeling that Minnesota is going to be able to move the ball against Green Bay, so the game may come down to whether Capers's defense can confuse Favre and force him into a couple of picks. I would also expect that it will come down to how successful they are in stopping Adrian Peterson. Given the Packers' average rush yards allowed so far, I think Peterson should have at least an average day, which is pretty good for him.