Thursday Night Football: Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson has emerged as Aaron Rodgers favourite target over the past couple of seasons

Week five is heralded with this NFC North battle between two teams who are 2-2 and coming off of a short week, making it all the more fascinating. The Packers, led by Aaron Rodgers, have underperformed so far during the current campaign while Minnesota will be pleased to have a .500 record after the Adrian Peterson debacle threatened to ruin their season. Keep reading to find out what you should keep an eye on during this crucial Thursday Night Football contest.

When Minnesota has the ball…
Without AP to hand the ball off to, Matt Cassel struggled in the early weeks of the year and his season ending injury gave second round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater a chance to get to grips with the NFL. However Bridgewater himself was injured last week and looks unlikely to play tonight, meaning Christian Ponder will get the call for the Vikings. Matt Asiata has handled the majority of the work in the backfield with Peterson unavailable, but despite his adequate play he has understandably, failed to replace Peterson’s production. The Packers defense has struggled at times this year but in recent weeks has improved, with the pass rush looking solid and Julius Peppers beginning to repay some of the faith shown in him by Green Bay, who signed him away from Chicago in the off-season. Edge: Packers

When Green Bay has the ball…
Aaron Rodgers and co have failed to move the ball as well as they might have expected to, although Rodgers himself has played relatively well as has stud wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Eddie Lacy, however, has struggled to move the ball on the ground and if the Packers are to improve on that side of the ball they’ll need Lacy to step up and create a more balanced attack. The Vikings defense has been better than expected, with the pass rush getting home frequently in large part thanks to first round pick Anthony Barr and fellow defensive end Everson Griffen. The purple people eaters have also forced five turnovers on the young season, and if they can force Rodgers into mistakes through creating pressure they may be able to create more turnover opportunities in this one.
Edge: Packers

Special Teams
Packers kicker Mason Crosby is at times erratic, but he’s been solid so far this year by making all but one of his kicks including both of his attempts from beyond 50 yards. The Vikings Blair Walsh has been similarly effective; he’s made more kicks than Crosby but he has also missed two from beyond the 40 yard mark. Cordarrelle Patterson gives Minnesota a dangerous threat returning kick-offs.

Injury Report
Bridgewater is questionable to play with his ankle injury for Minnesota. Jarrett Boykin is out for Green Bay, while linebacker Clay Matthews is probable to play.

Prediction
Vikings 18, Packers 30  

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