GREEN BAY—They’re at a crossroads in their season.
September is finally behind the Packers. They survived it by arriving at October 2-2 and only a game off the NFC North lead. Panic has been replaced by calm. All is right with the world following the Packers’ win in Chicago this past Sunday.
Thursday’s game against the visiting Vikings is an opportunity to break into the black for the first time this season. A Packers team that has been 0-1, 1-1 and 1-2 can go to 3-2 and lift off the launch pad.
The goal is to be in the NFC North lead by Thanksgiving, or earlier if you’re the panicky type, and beating the Vikings is the first step toward that goal.
By the way, the Vikings are 2-2, too.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Vikings.
1. Stop the run – The Packers are last in the league at it. That has to change because it’s not a formula for success, especially late in the season. The Vikings are No. 7 in the league in rushing, even without Adrian Peterson.
2. Find a happy medium – Up-tempo, attack-style offense is the way of the league, but the Packers need to buy some time of possession with their running game. The Packers pass to win, but they need to run to play defense.
3. Protect Aaron Rodgers – We saw what a difference-maker that was in the Chicago game. Rodgers is “The Man.” No one can be allowed to touch him.
4. Beware what you don’t know – Injury is clouding the Vikings’ quarterback picture.
5. Hold it high and tight – The weather forecast is for rain. This will be the first weather game of the year and ball security will be the priority.
6. Put it all together – The Packers have played outstanding offense and defense, but seldom at the same time in this season. A three-phases win is what this team needs as it heads into October.
7. Get Lacy on track – Eddie Lacy is one of the stars of this team. The sooner he gets in a groove, the sooner the Packers can be a complete offense. They’ll need him to help control the action on a likely hot day in Miami.
8. Achieve perspective – It’s good for a team to take stock of itself at intervals in the season. With a quarter of the season complete, this is one of those times. All is well, but only if the Packers beat the Vikings.
9. Improve the rankings – I’m not a big stats guy, but No. 28 on offense and No. 26 on defense are a little disturbing.
10. Do your job – It always comes down to that.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - SEPT. 30