Packers and Vikings: Two Ships Passing in the Night

When the Packers benched Tim Masthay from kickoff duty after Cordarelle Patterson's opening kickoff return, little did we know we wouldn't see him at all the rest of the night, in any capacity. But as we surmised, the Vikings defense had no answer for the Packers' suddenly balanced and unpredictable offense--the Pack scored every time they touched the ball until they were in kneel-down mode.

It was the Packers who moved the ball on the ground more effectively this time around, with a season high 182 yards, led by "Baby Beast Mode" Eddie Lacy's 94 yards on 29 carries. James Starks provided fresh legs in relief in his first game back from injury. If these guys can stay healthy, the Pack will have no trouble treading water offensively until Jones and Cobb return. You have to love what a solid running game can mean for Aaron Rodgers. Well, it means he can put up 30+ points with Jarrett Boykin, Myles White and Andrew Quarless as his targets after Nelson.

The penalties continue to concern. Datone Jones' personal foul in the first half cost the team three points and pass interference calls led to 14 points. The Pack needs to clean that up before things get real in December.

The defense, minus three starting linebackers was solid. They contained AP and dared Christian Ponder to beat them. Needless to say, #7 wasn't up to the challenge. My hunch is Freeman takes over next week and holds the job for the rest of the year. As for Peterson, he got only 13 carries for the second straight week, due in large part to the Pack's stranglehold on the ball, holding it for 40 of the game's 60 minutes. After Patterson's opening play magic, the Vikes were soon playing from behind and couldn't move the chains.

As for Rodgers, he was nearly perfect, with a 130 passer rating. He converted third downs at will and when they failed he converted on fourth down. The Pack finished 13-18 on third downs and 2-2 on fourth downs. The long drives wore down the defense, as evidenced by Starks' 25 yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

The Packers did precisely what they were expected to do. They dispatched an overmatched divisional opponent in quick order and get set to return home for a pair of home games where they'll be favored by more than a touchdown. More importantly, their injured guys are getting closer to return each week. With the schedule working in their favor between now and Thanksgiving, they should be on top of the division and they should have a number of keys back by the time they head to Ford Field.

Next up, da Bears. I'll be at the Park Tavern next Monday night to watch the Pack take down the well rested but critically injured Bears (no Jay Cutler and no Lance Briggs). If the Packers thought the Vikes' defense was soft, wait till they see what the Bears trot out. George Halas will be spinning in his grave. It'll be a party. Hope to see some of you there.

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