Another week, another quarterback change. Welcome back, Christian Ponder. Josh Freeman’s concussion opened the door for Ponder to return to his role as the starter for at least one game. The Packers, on the other hand, have Aaron Rodgers and have won three consecutive games to sit atop the NFC North at 4-2. As the teams prepare for their Sunday night border battle, here are three things you should know:
1. Breaking News: Rodgers is really good. Well, he’s even better than usual when facing the Vikings.
In 10 career regular-season starts against the Vikings, Rodgers has completed 232 of 328 passes (70.7 percent) for 2,840 yards and 24 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Rodgers’ 116.4 passer rating against the Vikings ranks No. 1 in NFL history (since the 1970 merger) against a single opponent with a minimum 250 attempts.
Vikings cornerback Chris Cook called Rodgers the best quarterback he’s ever faced.
“He gets the ball out of his hands fast,” Cook said. “He has one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen. He’s just accurate. He puts the ball in spots that only the receiver can catch the ball. Every throw I’ve seen him throw is right on point.”
By the way, in his past six Sunday night starts, Rodgers has passed for 1,698 yards and 17 touchdowns with only one interception.
2. Jared Allen has collected the second-most sacks (17) of any player against the Packers in league history, behind only Steve McMichael (18). Allen set a career high in sacks with 4 ½ against Green Bay in a Monday night matchup in 2009.
Allen had some pretty good one-on-one battles with Packers left tackle Chad Clifton over the years. On Sunday, he faces his first matchup against David Bakhtiari, the first Packers rookie to start at left tackle in the season opener since 1985.
Allen leads the Vikings in sacks (4.0) and quarterback hurries (15).
“Everyone’s got a blindside rusher that’s going to try and get after the quarterback,” Bakhtiari told Packers.com. “That’s what they get paid the big bucks to do. No weeks off, and I’ll step up.”
3. The Vikings ranked among the league leaders in takeaways the first few weeks of the season because they did a good job of capitalizing on their chances.
That hasn’t been the case the past two games. Jamarca Sanford dropped a sure interception on Carolina first’s drive two weeks ago. And Andrew Sendejo and Marcus Sherels dropped potential interceptions against the Giants on Monday night.
The Vikings are positioned near the bottom of the NFL in most defensive categories, so they can’t afford to give team’s new life by failing to convert in those situations.
“We play in a league today where you can’t give offenses a lot of second chances and a lot of opportunities, so any time you can get off the field, it’s a huge play for us,” linebacker Erin Henderson said. “Not saying it’s ever going to be easy when those plays come your way, but we get paid good money to go out there and make those plays.”