GREEN BAY—We have arrived at crunch time. If you like big games played in cold weather, this is the one for which you've been waiting.
Don't try to find ways for the Packers to lose this game and remain in the playoff race. That's a loser's mentality and it neither fits this team nor its fans.
This is a home game. This is a division game. This is a game between neighboring rivals that involves intense emotions and circumstances that guarantee joy and despair. This is a must win for every reason.
Mostly, the Packers must defeat the Vikings on Sunday to avoid falling two games off the NFC North lead. The Packers need a win on Sunday so they might go to Detroit for a Thanksgiving Day game that, should the Packers win that one, would put them in the driver's seat heading into December.
Don't even bother considering the fallout from a loss on Sunday. Trust me, it's bad.
Just focus on this one. Focus on one team being quarterbacked by a young man who has spent the majority of this season on the practice squad, and another team that has spent the season trying to find a quarterback worthy of the starting job. Focus on two teams with power running backs, and on a weather forecast that suggests those men will decide the outcome.
Are you ready for crunch time? It arrives on Sunday.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Vikings.
1. Run the ball—Let's make this real simple this week.
2. Stop the run—Old-time football; run the ball, stop the run. What better place than Lambeau Field?
3. Avoid interceptions—Scott Tolzien needs to be less concerned with making plays, and more concerned with not making mistakes.
4. Win the battle of field position—Cold-weather football is all about short fields. The team with the "shortest" field will likely win the game.
5. Gang tackle—Adrian Peterson makes the free hat miss. The Packers need many free hats.
6. Deny big plays—Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson are big-play threats.
7. Focus on this one—Not on the next one.
8. Play with emotion—The time for pacing yourself is over.
9. Try some shot plays—They mix well with the run and Tolzien appears to have a feel for the deep ball.
10. Be dogged—The Vikings are a 2-8 dome team playing in the cold. Motivation can be difficult to sustain. Additional coverage - Nov. 21