GREEN BAY – The Packers-Bears rivalry is built on history and tradition. Nothing can erase its esteem. Be that as it may, this Sunday's Packers at Vikings game is the NFC North's game of the year to date, and the rivalry between these two teams has a bright and testy future.
Sunday's game will leave one of the two teams in control of the division. That makes this a big game, but we'll be seeing more than a battle for the division lead on Sunday, we'll be seeing the future of this division.
The Packers aren't going away any time soon. They've got a young roster, a quarterback for the ages with plenty of life left in his career, and a commitment to drafting and developing young talent that guarantees big games deep into the future.
Meanwhile, Mike Zimmer has effected a quick rebuild of the Vikings, founded on the strength of a powerful young defense, a timeless star and a second-year quarterback on the rise.
The Packers and Vikings will meet at TCF Bank Stadium for the second consecutive year. Next season, the two teams will face each other in the Vikings' shiny new domed stadium. It'll create new revenue streams that'll provide a bright and secure future for the franchise.
This is it, folks. Packers-Bears purists, please don't take offense, but Packers-Vikings is the hot new rivalry in the NFC North, and should these two teams clash for the division title in Lambeau Field on Jan. 3, and in the playoffs a week or two later, Packers-Vikings will become one of the hottest rivalries in the NFL.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Vikings.
1. Stop the run – OK, that's easy, but what qualifies as stopping the run when Adrian Peterson is the runner? How about 125 yards? If the Packers hold him to 125, they've got a shot.
2. Throw the ball – I'd love to say run the ball, but I think the passing game has to lead the way.
3. Be predictable – Do what you do best.
4. Cover kicks – Cordarrelle Patterson is a game-changer. His kickoff return for a touchdown changed the game in Oakland.
5. Run after the catch – That's how you make big plays.
6. Achieve balance – Throwing the ball 61 times leaves your quarterback banged up and at risk.
7. Sack the quarterback – Pressure's nice, but sacks are better.
8. Keep time of possession close – It might be asking too much to win time of possession, but we've seen what happens when opponents dominate TOP.
9. Dig deep – Find that extra gear. Be the best you can be. Whatever cliché works, use it, because this is the big one.
10. Believe in the play call – It can't work if you don't think it can work.