The Green Bay Packers (4-2) are streaking and the Minnesota Vikings (1-5) are in a serious whirlwind of decline, but Vikings defensive end Jared Allen will certainly give the Packers headaches at the Metrodome on Sunday Night Football.
The Vikings have had tremendous trouble finding ways to win this season, and Allen has been quiet. In six games, Allen has registered 21 total tackles and four sacks, but the Vikings’ struggles certainly can’t be pinned on the fiery defensive playmaker.
In a 23-7 loss against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, Allen recorded two tackles for loss and he was given credit for half of a sack on Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Despite the Vikings’ porous offensive display, Allen kept the Vikings in the game.
The half-sack on Manning was created by Allen, as he was able to reach his arms around Giants’ left tackle Will Beatty and hold Manning’s jersey. Manning was unable to throw the football and Allen had completed one of the most bizarre plays you’ll ever see in an NFL game.
Allen may never have a play like that in a game again, but the veteran defensive end has always proven to be a master of surprise. The problem in Minnesota is that Allen isn’t putting up ridiculous numbers this season, and the Vikings will have to defend a more balanced Packers’ offensive attack on Sunday.
This season, the Packers’ offensive line has allowed quarterback Aaron Rodgers to get sacked 15 times (t-9th fewest in NFL) and the line has paved enough lanes in the running game help the Packers average 134.7 rushing yards per game (6th).
Since Allen arrived in Minnesota before the 2008 season, the Vikings have had to defend Green Bay’s aerial assault throughout the years. Green Bay’s offensive line though has clearly improved through their balanced attack, but Packers’ rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari will face a notorious Packer killer off of the edge on Sunday night.
In 10 career games against Green Bay, Allen has 39 total tackles, 15.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Allen and the Vikings’ play elevates whenever the Packers come to town, and fans should expect a similar intensity at the Metrodome this weekend.
Luckily for the rookie, Bakhtiari has already played against NFL pass-rushing specialists such as Aldon Smith, Brian Orakpo, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Terrell Suggs in 2013, but Allen will present a far-greater challenge.
Allen has history and another key element on his side in favor over Smith, Orakpo and company: familiarity. Allen knows how Rodgers and the Packers’ offensive line likes to operate and he probably knows their calls as well as Green Bay’s offense.
Fans may believe Green Bay should have a cakewalk in Minnesota in Week 8, but it’s an NFC North divisional road game in a hostile environment and the Vikings have one of the NFL’s best defensive players, which is enough reason not to pencil in a Green Bay victory five days before kickoff.
The Vikings have been awful this season, but if they become the masters of surprise on Sunday Allen will be a significant reason why.