Each week, Press-Gazette Media will look at national stories involving the Green Bay Packers as well as stories about their opponents this season:
Packers: Some of the blame for Green Bay’s struggles lies with the offensive coaching staff, which has stuck with simplistic route concepts instead of using pick routes, bunch formations and stack releases to beat man coverage, writes Steven Ruiz of USA Today. “The few times Mike McCarthy and play-caller Tom Clements went to these man-beating concepts against Detroit, Green Bay had success,” Ruiz writes. “But there was no adjustment to feature these plays as the game went along.”
Packers: Aaron Rodgers gives Green Bay a “puncher’s chance” of snapping its three-game losing streak Sunday at Minnesota, predicts former Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton. “If you polled the 32 general managers and asked them to pick the top quarterback in the game today, one would say Tom Brady and the other 31 would probably say Rodgers,” Tarkenton writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “When you have a hall of fame quarterback playing at the top of his game, anything can happen.”
Packers: Although Green Bay (6-3) has lost three straight games and trails Minnesota by a game in the NFC North, the Packers still have better odds than the Vikings of winning the division, according to the folks at FiveThirtyEight.com. Based on factors that include strength of remaining schedule, the Packers have 51 percent odds of winning the division (down from a high of 90 percent before Week 7), compared to 47 percent for the Vikings (7-2). As for winning the Super Bowl, the Packers’ odds have tumbled to 6 percent (down from a high of 19 percent).
Packers: Minnesota is well aware that Green Bay has dominated their series in recent years, going 9-1-1 since the 2010 season, writes Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I don't know if it makes it a good rivalry at this point because they've been so dominant," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Right now, the division goes through Green Bay and has for a couple of years ... so we have a lot of respect for those guys."
Vikings: Containing Aaron Rodgers in the pocket will be a priority for the Minnesota defense, writes Chris Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “You’ve got to expect the unexpected with him,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. “He has such a knack for moving around the pocket and doing a lot of things with his feet, not so much to create plays running the ball but to be able to complete the ball downfield with those deep throws.”
Vikings: While Green Bay currently has a poorly coached, mediocre offense, Minnesota has an offense with a distinct identity, centered on Adrian Peterson and the power running game, writes Andy Benoit of MMQB.com. And Benoit describes their defense as young, fast in all the right places and very well-schemed.
Vikings: Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer takes issue with those who describe second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as a game manager, writes Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I don’t think that is what he is,” Zimmer said. “I don’t know what a game manager is really. But I think Teddy’s got an extremely bright future, he’s a heck of a quarterback and I’m glad he’s mine.”
Bears: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio remembers facing a young quarterback making his first start named Tom Brady back in 2001, and hopes Chicago (4-5) doesn’t get burned in a similar fashion by Broncos first-time starter Brock Osweiler, writes Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Bears coach John Fox notes that there’s “a book on every player in this league. Obviously, his book’s not real thick because there hasn’t been a lot of playing time. How he fits in the offense, what they’ll try to do with him, I think we have a pretty good understanding of.”
Lions: Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson said he felt sick after his muffed onside recovery attempt gave the Packers one final shot at victory Sunday, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I gave myself enough of a hard time,” Johnson said of the ribbing he took from teammates on the Lions (2-7) after the game. “I was hurt after that, so can’t nobody else give me a worse feeling than I gave myself after that one.”
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