The Vikings run coach Leslie Frazierís version of the Tampa-2 scheme and rank No. 11 in points allowed, No. 16 in yards allowed, No. 13 in rushing yards allowed and No. 6 in average yards allowed per carry.
The last time the teams met, the Packers had one of their better running games of the season, with halfbacks James Starks and Alex Green combining for 124 yards on 27 carries. The Vikings have a solid three-man rotation at defensive tackle with Kevin Williams, who though no longer a great player still is a good one; Letroy Guion (6-4, 303); and Fred Evans (6-4, 305).
The Vikings played last week without starting end Brian Robison (shoulder injury), but heís expected back and is a more complete end than his replacement, Everson Griffen, whoís a better rusher than run defender. Chad Greenway is as complete a linebacker as there is in the NFL and should be a starter in the Pro Bowl.
The Vikings rank No. 20 in defensive passer rating (89.5), No. 20 in passing yards allowed, No. 12 in average yards per attempt and No. 13 in sacks percentage. Their best rushers are ends Jared Allen (10 sacks), Robison (71/2) and Griffen (five). Cornerback Antoine Winfield, who at age 35 still is excellent in the slot as nickel back, fractured his hand last week but is expected to play Sunday wearing a soft cast to protect it.
The Vikingsí secondary also got a lift when the teamís most talented cover man, third-year pro Chris Cook (6-2, 212), returned last week from a broken wrist that sidelined him for six games. He played 37 snaps against Houston and is an upgrade over rookie Josh Robinson, a third-round pick who has great speed but is extremely raw.
Safety Harrison Smith, the No. 29 pick overall, has added a physical element and some ball skills to their safety position. Heís a hitter with straight-line speed and a good nose for the ball (three interceptions).
Harvin is one of the most dynamic returners in the game, so his loss hurts. With him out, cornerback Marcus Sherels (5-10, 175) is the primary return man. Heís taken one punt back for a touchdown (77 yards) but is averaging a relatively modest 8.4 yards a return. On kickoffs heís averaging 24.8 yards with a long of 41.
Rookie kicker Blair Walsh has been great. He ranks second in the NFL in field goal percentage (91.4), and his 32-for-35 kicking includes an incredible 9-for-9 from 50 yards or more. Punter Chris Kluwe, one of the gameís great free spirits, ranks No. 17 in net average (39.8 yards), No. 23 in gross average (44.8 yards) and has only two touchbacks on 69 attempts.