Packers head across the border to battle Vikings

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Since 1961 when Vince Lombardi and Bud Grant roamed the sidelines, these two border rivals have faced each other at least twice each year, except for the strike-shortened 1982 season.
 
The regular-season series between the Packers and the Vikings now stands at 59-50-2, with each team winning once in post-season play.  The rivals have never faced each other in preseason play.
 
Green Bay dominated the series in the 60s, Minnesota in the 70s, the Packers in the 80s, the Vikings in 90s, and the teams basically split in the new Millennium through 2009.  Since 2010, Green Bay has won 11 times and Minnesota three times with one tie.
 
Last season, the Packers won 38-25 on Dec. 24th at Lambeau Field, while the Vikings won 17-14 in the debut of their gleaming new U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 2 before a national television audience.
 
In last September’s contest, it boiled down to the quarterbacks and turnovers.  Sam Bradford was magnificent, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers, while Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and was intercepted and strip-sacked in the fourth quarter in an ugly three-point loss.
 
When the 4-1 Packers and 3-2 Vikings meet at 12 noon Sunday, first place will be on the line in the NFC North division.  Both teams have been hit hard with injuries, with each listing 10 players on their injury report Friday afternoon.
 
For Minnesota, it seems unlikely Bradford will be under center Sunday after struggling and then departing Monday night’s 20-17 victory over the Bears in Chicago.  Case Keenum will probably get his fourth start at quarterback in the young 2017 season.
 
The Vikings lost prized rookie running back Dalvin Cook for the season in Detroit Oct. 1, and receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) and guard Nick Eston (calf) have not practiced and currently are considered “out” for Sunday’s game.  Five other key defensive players are injured, but all practiced, with the most serious being linebacker Eric Kendricks (shoulder), who was limited today and is questionable for Sunday.
 
The Packers may be without two key members of their secondary, as rookie cornerback Kevin King remains in concussion protocol and veteran safety Morgan Burnett has not practiced at all this week due to a hamstring injury.  Linebackers Ahmad Brooks (back) and Joe Thomas (ankle) have not practiced all week and are listed as doubtful and out for Sunday.
 
Green Bay does have some positive news, as running back Ty Montgomery (broken ribs) and tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) both participated in practice Thursday and could see action Sunday.  Bakhtiari has not played a down since the season-opening victory over Seattle at Lambeau Field.
 
Receiver Jordy Nelson (back) has practiced all week, while tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) has been limited and is listed as questionable.
 
The Packers offense, the best in the NFL in the red zone, will need all hands on deck against a formidable Mike Zimmer defense that yields 18 points and 80 yards rushing per game.  Rookie Aaron Jones, who had a breakout game with 125 yards and a touchdown against Dallas, should garner his second start.  The Vikings will rely on Latavius Murray and 5-foot-9 speedster Jerick McKinnon in the backfield and added receiver Michael Floyd as a weapon on Monday
 
Rodgers is playing at an elite level and comes off a stellar game-winning drive and touchdown pass to Davante Adams to pull out another last-minute victory over the Cowboys.
 
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Last year in the debut of U.S. Bank Stadium, it boiled down to the quarterbacks and turnovers.  Sam Bradford was magnificent, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns (no turnovers), while Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and was intercepted and strip-sacked in the fourth quarter in an ugly 17-14 defeat.  This time Rodgers’ play and the Packers defense make the difference.
Packer 27, Vikings 24


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