1. Packers tackles vs. Vikings ends—Packers offensive tackles Marshall Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga will have their hands full blocking Vikings defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison on Sunday. Newhouse, a second-year tackle making only his second start on the left side, will be up against Allen, long one of the NFL’s top sack artists and currently the league-leader with 9.5 sacks. Not only will Newhouse be battling Allen, he’ll also be battling the dome din that gives pass-rushers a decided advantage in getting off the ball. Bulaga, making his second straight start since recovering from a mild knee sprain, will be engaged by Robison, whose 4.5 sacks is tied for 13th in the league. Newhouse and Bulaga will be entrusted with protecting the most valuable property in the league, quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This is a matchup the Packers must not lose.
2. Packers run-defense vs. Adrian Peterson—The Packers are fifth in the league against the run, while the Vikings are third in rushing and Peterson is sixth among league rushers with 537 yards. He leads the league with seven rushing touchdowns. This is a classic matchup of team strengths. It’s not a matchup the Packers have to win, but they must avoid allowing Peterson to take over the game, dominate time of possession and minimize rookie quarterback Christian Ponder’s role in the game.
3. Vikings secondary vs. Packers receivers—The most talented corps of receivers in the league should enjoy a major advantage over the Vikings’ 24th-ranked pass-defense. Packers receivers need to be the stars of this game.
4. Christian Ponder vs. Dom Capers—The Packers defensive coordinator is likely to empty his playbook on Ponder, the Vikings’ rookie quarterback who is making his first pro start. Capers and his blitz schemes should present a daunting challenge for Ponder.
5. Percy Harvin vs. Randall Cobb—These two star return men won’t go head-to-head against each other, but each player offers game-breaking ability and the potential to tilt the field in their team’s favor should they take one to the “house.” Additional coverage - Oct. 21