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Vikings: 3 keys to victory against Green Bay

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis. Photo: AP/Bruce Kluckhohn
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Minneapolis.

Updated: September 15, 2019 03:38 PM

KSTP provides a week-to-week preview for each Minnesota Vikings game. After a 28-12 opening season victory at home against the Atlanta Falcons, the Vikings will travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers Sunday. Kickoff is slated for noon.

Here are three keys to picking up a big division win on the road.

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1. Utilize the play action pass

The Vikings' offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage in their week one win against Atlanta.

Minnesota ran the ball 38 times for 172 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns against the Falcons, but it'll be tougher sledding at Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Packers' run defense held Chicago to just 2.1 yards per carry in week one.

What could open up for the Vikings on Sunday is the play action pass. Knowing the Vikings want establish the run, look for Green Bay to pack the box in early downs which will give Kirk Cousins opportunities to make throws down the field.

Cousins only threw 10 passes in week one, meaning the passing game playbook is largely untouched and unseen.

"We talked about all the things on that call sheet that we can save and hold for another week," Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said on Thursday. "Certainly, as a coach, you want to try all these things and in a game. You’d love to have 100 plays and try all these fun things you’ve been practicing on, but there is a level of trust in knowing that those plays are good and saved for another day."

Besides play action passes, look for the Vikings to use a lot of screens to running backs and tight ends on Sunday.

2. Keep Jimmy Graham out of the end zone

Looking for an x-factor in Sunday's game at Lambeau Field? How about Packers veteran tight-end Jimmy Graham.

Graham had a fairly quiet first season in Green Bay with 55 catches for 636 yards and only two touchdowns, but he scored the Packers' only touchdown in their 10-3 win against Chicago in week one of the 2019 season.

Graham has the size and ability to be a monster in the red zone, but the Vikings match-up well against him. Linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, along with safety Harrison Smith could all be matched up against Graham on Sunday.

In four career games against the Vikings, Graham has only scored one touchdown and that came in 2011.

3. Keep Aaron Rodgers in the pocket

Against most NFL quarterbacks, a quick pass rush that flushes the quarterback out of the pocket is a good thing. Against Aaron Rodgers - not necessarily. 

Obviously the Vikings want to put the heat on Rodgers because he can carve up defenses from the pocket, but even at 35 years old, he can make plays on the run and keep plays alive outside of the pocket.

"He’s such a dynamic talent that he makes the most of every situation that he’s in," Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards said about Rodgers performance against Chicago. "He scrambled around, threw the ball down the field, those traits are still there. We’ve got to do a good job just like always with our rush plan and covering those guys down the field, because when he starts scrambling around they’re headed right to the end zone. Guys got to be disciplined with their eyes."

Across his career, Rodgers has been sacked an average of just over three times a game against Minnesota. He holds a 12-8-1 regular season record against Minnesota, but is only 4-4-1 against the Vikings in the Mike Zimmer era.

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Credits

James Monical

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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