Each week, BringMeTheNews will analyze the Vikings’ upcoming game from both sides, and give you “5 key reasons the Vikings should be worried.” This week they travel to Lambeau Field and face the rival Green Bay Packers.
For 5 key reasons the Vikings will win, click here.
5. Because Brett Favre says so
This one doesn't need much of an introduction. The video pretty much says it all, but the former quarterback who has played on both sides of the rivalry and beaten both teams, thinks the Packers will win Thursday night, rather handily.
Click here to see what Favre has to say about the game.
4. Vikings defense struggling on third down
The Vikings defense has struggled to get off the field on third down, especially in the last two games against the Saints and Falcons. Minnesota has allowed a conversion rate of 68 percent (19-of-28) in those two games.
The Falcons, who came into the game as the NFL's No. 1 offense, really took advantage of that as they converted on 10-of-15 third down attempts. 1500 ESPN notes that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was 7-of-10 for 143 yards and a touchdown in those situations on Sunday, while New Orleans' quarterback Drew Brees completed 9-of-10 passes for 122 yards on third downs against the Vikings a week before.
"It's terrible, we have a lot of work to do," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "I'm extremely disappointed in that."
If that doesn't improve it will be a major problem against Green Bay and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
3. Packers have a big-play defense
Turnovers usually are a big factor in determining the winner of an NFL game, and Green Bay's defense has been good at creating them.
The Packers come into Thursday night's tilt with a +4 turnover margin, the fifth best in the NFL.
On Sunday, Packers' cornerback Sam Shields and linebacker Clay Matthews intercepted Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler. Both interceptions set up Green Bay scores.
The key for the Vikings on this will be avoiding third-and-long situations, where Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers can really get creative with the blitz packages he dials up that can put Matthews on the same side as Julius Peppers.
2. Packers' prolific passing attack
While Green Bay's offense has struggled some early this season, the Packers passing attack remains dangerous. Last week, in Green Bay's 38-17 victory over Chicago, Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns.
The Associated Press notes that Packers' receiver Jordy Nelson leads the NFL with 33 catches and 459 yards. He caught 10 passes for 108 yards and two scores against the Bears on Sunday, and Green Bay's other receiver Randall Cobb had seven catches for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Packers responded to some early season criticism by finishing every drive with at least a field goal attempt last week.
That will be a big test for the Vikings secondary on Thursday night.
1. Pondering the quarterback situation
Sure we gloated about Teddy Bridgewater in the other preview post, but his status for Thursday night is uncertain at best. Bridgewater did not practice either Monday or Tuesday after spraining his ankle during the fourth quarter of Sunday's win.
With Matt Cassel out for the season and Bridgewater hurting, that means the next man up is Christian Ponder. Ponder took the reps with the first team in practice and said he will be prepared to play.
Ponder entered the game for 10 plays against the Falcon on Sunday, handing off the ball nine times and carrying the ball once himself.
According to 1500 ESPN, the last time Ponder threw a pass in the NFL was Dec. 1, 2013. He was 3-of-8 and was sacked three times in that game, before he left at halftime because of a concussion.
The good news for the former first-round pick is that he has had success against the Packers before, leading the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012 by beating Green Bay in the final regular season game and quarterbacking Minnesota to a 26-26 tie last year at Lambeau.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Ponder knows this is a chance for him to audition for a job. A strong performance could get the attention of another team for next season.