The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings go into Sunday's showdown reeling from bad performances, and whomever can turn the tide around best will likely get out of Lambeau Field with a NFC North division win and better standing in the conference playoff picture.
At 6-5, Minnesota is currently eighth in the NFC, tied record-wise with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay, on other hand, is 7-4 after their 38-10 loss to the New York Giants last Sunday night and sits in fifth place in the conference's postseason standings.
Meet the Green Bay Packers
Green Bay's offensive line struggled mightily against the Giants' defensive line last week, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and hit seven times. Rodgers also lost a fumble late in the first half. Against Jared Allen and the Vikings, the offensive line will need to find ways to give Rodgers more time.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings expects to return to action this week, but the defense figures to still be without the services and skills of linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback/safety Charles Woodson. Offensively, the Packers rank lower than one might think, coming in at 18th in the league in yards per game with 342.9.
Meet the Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings dropped a big divisional battle last week in Chicago, falling behind 25-3 at halftime and never recovering. Three turnovers, including two fumbles, didn't help either. Offensively, with wide receiver Percy Harvin still questionable to play, running back Adrian Peterson could see a heavier load. Peterson ranks first in the NFL with 1,236 rushing yards.
Local Takes: Packers
Devin Shanley from Acme Packing Company says Green Bay's offense was "an outright failure" last week:
"So there are lots of questions this time around...but most of those are variations on where do we go from here? The good news is that it's not as ugly as it all sounds (or probably feels right now). The bad news is this offense only goes as far as the offensive line takes us....and after the last two weeks that is not looking great."
Local Takes: Vikings
Eric J. Thompson of the Daily Norseman writes that the Vikings may improve this week, and it still may not be enough:
"I personally don't expect the Vikings to play nearly as bad as they did last week; that said, I don't expect a different result overall. The Vikings are visiting another tough division opponent that is plenty motivated because they just got embarrassed on national television. They still might not have Percy Harvin. And while they've made noticeable strides in 2012, I think the Vikings still aren't ready for the postseason."
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
After further review, the #6 might be the worst number in Vikings history, if such a thing exists.— The Daily Norseman (@DailyNorseman) November 29, 2012
@TomSilverstein - Tom Silverstein, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Packer beat reporter.
@StribDW - Dan Wiederer, Vikings beat writer for the Star Tribune.
Vikings still uncertain on Percy Harvin's status. Harvin did next to nothing today. Tomorrow will be key.— Dan Wiederer (@StribDW) November 29, 2012
Green Bay opened the week as nine-point favorites, according to OddsShark, but the line has since crept closer to double-digits as the Packers are currently favored by 9½ points. The over/under point total was 47 earlier this week, but it now rests at 46½.
In Week 14, the Packers will stay at Lambeau Field, looking for a season sweep against the, division rival Detroit Lions. Minnesota, meanwhile, stays in the division, as well, and will host the Chicago Bears, a team they just faced in Week 12.