WEEK 12: NOON VS. GREEN BAY • ch. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)





One man's prediction: The Vikings will probably need to win out and cross their fingers to somehow make the playoffs, and Sunday's test against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers is easily the toughest left on their schedule. Rodgers is playing as well, if not better, than he did in his 2011 MVP season, and the Packers are getting points from their defense and special teams, too. The visitors will win, but the Vikings won't be total pushovers.

Three keys

Post-Peterson plan

The Vikings learned Tuesday that they will be without star running back Adrian Peterson for the rest of the season after the NFL handed down a suspension. A day later they claimed veteran Ben Tate, who was waived by the Browns. While Tate is the kind of talented back worth kicking the tires on, it appears his addition had more to do with injuries to Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata than anything else. McKinnon, who will play, is still their starter.

Charles in charge

With Greg Jennings bothered by a rib injury and Cordarrelle Patterson still battling a steep development curve, some guy named Charles Johnson was the team's leading receiver last week. Johnson is another former Browns player, and he has impressed the coaches with his size/speed combo and hands. His role should continue to increase this week. Can he become a consistent threat or was last week just a fluke?

Packing the end zone

The Packers are just the fifth team in NFL history to score 50-plus points in consecutive games. While that isn't all because of Rodgers, he has a heck of a lot to do with it. Rodgers has thrown 28 touchdown passes — four times as many as the Vikings have as a team — with just three interceptions. The Vikings, who lost at Green Bay 42-10 on Oct. 2, will be able to keep the Packers from scoring 50 points again, but holding them below 30 seems unrealistic.

Player to watch

Clay Matthews

Matthews, a four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker, is always a player teams should keep an eye on. It may be harder for the Vikings to do that Sunday, though. The past couple of weeks, the Packers have tinkered with Matthews as an inside linebacker in their nickel package, which they use often. In those two games, Matthews has been outstanding, with 16 tackles, two sacks and one pass defended. Will he be all over the place again?