Aaron Rodgers is playing at an MVP level and the Green Bay
Packers remain undefeated. However, the spotty play of a generous
defense is keeping them from being completely satisfied.
The Packers hope to tighten up things on the defensive end and
complete their second straight season series sweep of the Minnesota
Vikings on Monday night at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay (8-0) is off to its best start since opening with 10
straight wins in 1962, but the reigning Super Bowl champs have not
been a complete team.
Thanks to Rodgers, the Packers are averaging an NFL-high 34.4
points per game this season, and have won 14 in a row including
postseason since losing 31-27 at New England last Dec. 19. Green
Bay will now try for its 10th consecutive win at Lambeau Field,
where it has also won four of the last five versus Minnesota
The problem for the Packers of late has been on the defensive
end. They rank 31st in pass defense (299.6 yards per game), 30th in
total defense (399.6) and 17th in points per game allowed
Despite returning a pair of interceptions for touchdowns last
Sunday, Green Bay allowed its most points of the season and almost
blew a 21-point lead in a 45-38 win at San Diego.
“We’re 8-0. We’ve earned it,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “But we
have expectations and the level of play that not only the
individual expects of himself but what we expect of each position,
The Packers have allowed a whopping 43 plays of 20 or more
yards, including two of the Chargers’ TDs last week.
“On defense, anyway, none of us are happy with the way we’re
playing right now,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.
“Certain segments we’re happy with. So the only way you improve
that is you go back to work and work that much harder to get
“I think we can make significant improvement, I know that.”
The Packers gave up 435 total yards at Minnesota on Oct. 23,
when they held on for a 33-27 win. Adrian Peterson gained 175 of
the Vikings season-high 218 rushing yards in that contest.
“We’ve shown on tape that if we execute, we can play with any
team in this league,” said Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin, who
expects to play Monday night despite dealing with a rib injury he
suffered against the Packers.
Minnesota might be able to move the ball versus Green Bay, but
stopping Rodgers is another story.
Rodgers completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and three TDs
last month against Minnesota, and went 21 of 26 for 247 yards last
week against the Chargers, tossing four touchdowns to increase his
NFL-leading total to 24.
“He is a special, special, special, special player,” said
receiver Greg Jennings, who has caught six TD passes from Rodgers
this season including four over the last five games.
Jennings had seven receptions for 147 yards including a 79-yard
catch and run for a score at Minnesota last month. Rodgers has
completed 68.9 percent of his passes for 1,602 yards with 14 TDs
and three interceptions in his last five games against the
His counterpart, Minnesota rookie Christian Ponder, made his
first career start in the Oct. 23 loss, throwing for 219 yards with
two touchdowns and two interceptions to keep the Vikings
Ponder was 18 of 28 for 236 yards and a TD during Minnesota’s
last game, a 24-21 win at Carolina on Oct. 30.
Coming off their bye week, the Vikings hope to maintain the
momentum earned from that victory and parlay it into an upset
“You always have to be excited over improvement and build on
it,” tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. “The excitement is going to
cause the building process, so it has to be there.”
With Peterson toting the ball, the Vikings at least have a
chance to give the Packers problems. Fourth in the NFL with 795
yards on the ground, Peterson has averaged 110.3 and rushed for
three TDs in his last three games at Lambeau.