Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings: 5 matchups to watch

Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images /
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Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images /

4. Dalvin Cook & Latavius Murray vs Packers run defense

Up until this season, the Packers defensive strength was in their run defense. This year, they have regressed mightily in that area. Heading into Week 12, they rank seventh in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. Teams get up on them, and then they are able to run out the clock because the Packers are unable to stop them. It was seen in each of the team’s late losses. They gave the ball back, couldn’t get a stop on the ground and the game ended.

The Vikings haven’t generated the raw yardage totals of other teams, but they have a pair of big backs in the backfield that wear you down over the course of the game. Dalvin Cook’s major enemy in his young career has been his ability to stay healthy. When healthy, he gives the Vikings a great dual-threat back out of the backfield, and Murray, while not as explosive, allows the team to keep Cook fresh late in the game.

Blake Martinez and Antonio Morrison are great run defenders, but they haven’t been very consistent this year. Consistency will be the key for them on Sunday. With linemen Mike Daniels expected to be out, Kenny Clark and Montravius Adams are going to have to step up to fill the hole that he left. If not, the run defense success sets up the play-action passing game for quarterback Kirk Cousins.