The Minnesota Vikings will make their second straight appearance on national television in Week 8, as they welcome the Green Bay Packers to Mall of America Field on Sunday night. With Josh Freeman apparently dealing with a concussion and likely to miss the game, Minnesota will turn back to Christian Ponder as their starting quarterback after he started the first three games of the season before being injured and sitting behind Matt Cassel and Freeman in the last two games.
Here are some numbers of note ahead of Sunday night’s game.
301- Packers’ running back Eddie Lacy has rushed for 301 yards in three games since returning from a concussion (4.4 yards per carry), with over 20 carries in all three contests. The Vikings don’t have the imposing run defense they’ve had in the past, but if they can contain Lacy and put the Green Bay offense off-schedule in down and distance it will go a long way toward keeping them in the game.
234- Ponder threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns against Green Bay in Week 17 last season, which is his only game with multiple passing touchdowns over his last nine games and also stands as his second-highest yardage total over his last 11 games. That game may be the primary reason Ponder is starting Sunday night instead of Cassel, if only for lack of another obvious answer.
116.4- Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a career passer rating of 116.4 in 11 regular season games against the Vikings, the highest of any quarterback against an opponent since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 (according to the Elias Sports Bureau). He has thrown for 2,840 yards (258.2 per game) with 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions against Minnesota, not including last year’s playoff victory.
28- Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson has 28 total touches (23 carries and five receptions) over the last two games as the team has been beaten by a combined score of 58-17. He is reportedly dealing with a hamstring issue that may be limiting his effectiveness, but as long as it is not a major issue I expect 20-25 carries for Peterson on Sunday night as Minnesota attempts to have a more balanced offense and keep the Packers’ offense off the field.
3- Wide receiver Greg Jennings had three quarterbacks, and two predominantly (Rodgers and Brett Favre) during his seven seasons (96 games) with the Packers. That is the same number he has played with in six games with the Vikings.
2- Peterson is clearly the top running back for Minnesota and should not come off the field a lot, but backup Toby Gerhart has just two carries (for 11 yards) and nine total touches all season. Regardless of Peterson’s health, there has to be room for Gerhart to have more of a role in what has become a stagnant Vikings’ offense.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.