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Packers vs. Vikings 2016 preview: It’s a tale of two quarterbacks

The state of the Packers’ and Vikings’ quarterback positions couldn’t be more different.

To say the least, the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback situation is tenuous. Though they defeated the Tennessee Titans last week, Shaun Hill didn’t have much to do with it. The Vikings’ defense scored both of their touchdowns, which isn’t a formula that will win a lot of games.

Head coach Mike Zimmer has been quiet about who will start at quarterback when his team hosts the Green Bay Packers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, but he seems to be leaning towards Sam Bradford. In practice Wednesday, Bradford took all of the first-team snaps.

Given how much the Vikings gave up to acquire Bradford, it was expected he would start as soon as possible. The problem is, his career numbers indicate he isn’t all that much better than Hill. In some categories, such as quarterback rating and completion percentage, Hill actually ranks slightly higher than Bradford.

As the Vikings learned in 2012, the ceiling for a team with a lousy quarterback is probably a wild card round loss. Minnesota fell in the first round to Seattle last season as well, but it was only by one point. Teddy Bridgewater was on a pretty clear upward trajectory before he tore his ACL at the end of training camp.

If Bridgewater were active, this game could be viewed as the present of the NFC North (Aaron Rodgers) taking on the future (Bridgewater). But now, it’ll be Rodgers going against a glorified stopgap. And since he’s unlikely to turn the ball over twice like Marcus Mariota, the Vikings will need their offense to step up. Adrian Peterson can’t run for 1.6 yards per carry again and expect his team to walk away with a win.

Rodgers’ late-season pair of Hail Mary passes against the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals make it easy to forget the Packers' offense never really gelled for the 2015 season. That’s a big reason why the Vikings were able to usurp them and win the division for the first time since 2009.

But after watching one week of action, it’s clear the Packers’ offense is ready to dominate the league once again. One of the biggest reasons why is the return of Jordy Nelson, who caught six catches and a touchdown pass in his first game back from the ACL tear he suffered last August.

At 32 years old, Rodgers is still in the early stages of his prime. It feels like his greatness is taken for granted sometimes, but performances like his three-touchdown outing in the Packers’ win over the Jacksonville Jaguars show just how good he is. Rodgers is a one-man highlight machine, and his 29-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams may wind up being the throw of the year.

It’s the tale of two quarterbacks for the Vikings and Packers, which may wind up being the tale of their two seasons. Green Bay may have the most stable QB situation in the NFL, whereas the Vikings’ is so fragile that Zimmer still hasn’t announced a starter for Sunday night.

One injury can change the balance of the entire division. The Packers experienced that last year, and the Vikings are seeing it now.