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Packers vs. Vikings: Performances to watch

Perimeter matchups are in the spotlight


MINNEAPOLIS – The first meeting between the Packers and Vikings this season, back in Week 2, ended in a tie.

So, if tiebreakers come into play, the winner of Sunday night's game would have the edge in any playoff implications between the two clubs.

Here's what to watch for:

1. Tough customer: Minnesota WR Adam Thielen has cooled off a bit since starting 2018 with eight consecutive 100-yard receiving performances, but his history against the Packers is impressive, too. In Week 16 of 2016, he caught 12 passes for 202 yards and two TDs against Green Bay. Then last year in Week 6, it was nine catches for 96 yards, and earlier this year he had 12 grabs for 131 yards and a score. How the Packers decide to match up against Thielen could be determined by the health of the rest of the secondary. With CBs Kevin King and Bashaud Breeland, as well as S Kentrell Brice, all questionable on the injury report, Green Bay has a lot of moving parts in the back end. Rookie CB Jaire Alexander is a good bet to see a lot of Thielen, but whether it's a follow-all-night assignment could hinge on others.

2. On the flip side: The most-watched perimeter matchup on the other side will undoubtedly be Packers WR Davante Adams vs. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes. They went head-to-head throughout the Week 2 game, with Adams catching eight passes for 64 yards and a score. Adams, with 72 catches for 953 yards and nine TDs through 10 games, is on pace for one of the best seasons by any receiver in Packers history. Rhodes has just one interception this year but is routinely given the toughest duty of any cover corner. Two Pro Bowlers in a top-shelf duel.

3. Sack stars: Vikings DE Danielle Hunter leading his team with 11 ½ sacks isn't a great surprise, but Packers LB Kyler Fackrell leading his with eight certainly is. Fackrell is coming off his second three-sack game of the season, and his playing time continues to increase with the injury to LB Nick Perry. The third-year pro might have to start dealing with offenses devoting more attention to him coming off the edge.

4. Same number: Both Vikings RB Dalvin Cook and Packers RB Aaron Jones wear No. 33, and both are equally important to their offense's success. Cook is back from a troublesome hamstring injury, and when he gets it going, he makes life easier for QB Kirk Cousins, who has thrown seven interceptions and lost six fumbles this season. Jones is a weapon as both a runner and receiver for QB Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers' offense has been at its best when Jones is the centerpiece.

5. Starting somewhere: Two years ago, the Packers' late-season run began with six games to go in the regular season, meaning right now. At 4-5-1, for Green Bay to have any viable path to taking the NFC North from division-leading Chicago (8-3), a win here is a must. Otherwise, the Packers will be looking to win out and get a ton of help just to stay in the wild-card hunt.