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The Moment We've All Been Waiting For

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Date: 5 October 2009 Location: Minneapolis, MN
Time: 7:30 PM CST Stadium: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
TV: ESPN Know Thy Enemy: Acme Packing Company
Gonzo's Prediction: Vikings 31, Packers 27
Final Score: Vikings 30, Packers 23

You know, I probably could have had some big, sweeping inspirational something-or-other about tonight's game, but really. . .do I have to hype this game any further than it's already been hyped? We know what it's all about, and we know what's at stake. So what do the Vikings need to do to win tonight?

1) Don't forget who your best player is - Yes, the story on the marquee says that this is all about Brett Favre. However, we all know who Minnesota's best player is, and he wears #28. Over the past two weeks, the Packers' run defense has given up 141 yards to Cedric Benson and 117 yards to Steven Jackson (on a Rams' offense that really doesn't have a whole lot else). They currently rank 23rd in the NFL against the run, and the Vikings need to be able to exploit that. Adrian Peterson has gone over 100 yards in three of his four career games against the Packers, with the Al Harris cheap shot game being the only exception. With the Packers' switch to the 3-4 going a bit roughly, the best running back in the NFL should be able to easily eclipse the century mark again.

2) Get after Aaron Rodgers - The Packers' offensive line situation is a mess. Left tackle Chad Clifton won't play because of an injury, so the offensive tackle spots for Green Bay will be manned by converted guard Daryn Colledge and Alan Barbre. Barbre has been, quite frankly, terrible throughout the first three games of the year for the Packers, and Ray Edwards has played very well for the Vikings thus far, so he should be able to take advantage. Against St. Louis, Colledge gave up four or five pressures to something named James Hall. . .and, with all due respect to Mr. Hall, he ain't Jared Allen. Not to mention the advantage the Vikings have on the interior with the Williams Wall. The Vikings have to exploit this matchup tonight.

3) Don't get hammered by the big play - Aaron Rodgers, when he gets time, can throw a pretty good deep ball, and the Packers have an outstanding deep threat in Greg Jennings. Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin will have to come up big tonight on those occasions where the Minnesota pass rush doesn't get into the Green Bay backfield. The longest pass the Vikings have allowed this year has been 31 yards, and they defended the deep ball well against Calvin Johnson and the Lions back in Week 2, so hopefully that success will continue and the Vikings' pass defense will maintain their top 5 standing (Minnesota is currently 4th in the NFL against the pass).

On paper, Minnesota appears to be the better team. But, as we all know, NFC North divisional games aren't played on paper. I'd expect nothing less from these two teams than another hard-fought, smash-up battle.

Do I think the Vikings will win? Do you remember what site you're at?

About an hour and a half until kickoff, folks. . .let's get to it!