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Minnesota beats Green Bay if ... Vikings head coach Mike Tice can convince his team that it belongs in the playoffs. I just experienced seven games where we needed to win every one of them, or we were done. And sometimes in that situation you can over-press and guys get too tight to play. Maybe that's been happening some in Minnesota, with them losing late in the year. What Tice has to do is tell his guys there's a reason they're where they're at. Don't give them the reason you've lost seven out of 10. Give them the reason they won eight games this year. What was the difference in those games? Use that as a motivating factor and try to find a positive way to reinforce that they're there and a lot of teams aren't.
The Vikings offense is dangerous at all times. And I know that both of their previous games against Green Bay were 34-31 games, but I really think it's going to be a different type of game this time. I may be dead wrong, but my feeling is it's not going to be a high-scoring game. I think it's going to be more smash-mouth type game, in that kind of weather. It may be just a close as the other two games, but I think it's not going to be as high scoring. Which means that Minnesota has to take advantage of its opportunities on offense and get points whenever it can.
Randy Moss is a huge factor for the Vikings this week. I think the whole team and the entire offense feeds off his energy. If they feel like he's there, and he's into the game, that's just a confidence factor that they have, knowing that he's out there. Whether he's catching the ball or not, I think with him out there, they think they're better.
I'm looking forward to watching the game if only to see Antoine Winfield matched up against Javon Walker. That'd be fun just to watch those two. Winfield battles you, and it should be worth all the hype just to watch those two. You're talking about two good players, and two very competitive guys.
Green Bay beats Minnesota if ... the Packers don't let it come down to the very end of the game for the third straight time. It's not likely you're going to be able to beat the Vikings with a last-second Ryan Longwell field goal again, so to me, a fast start is the key for Green Bay. Playing at home, I think they want to get a decent lead and let the Lambeau crowd get into it and make it difficult for Minnesota to come back. They need to re-establish that homefield advantage that Green Bay has been famous for.
I know Ahman Green hasn't had quite as big a year as in the past, but I'd be surprised if he doesn't get the ball a number of times early. Just to make a statement up front with the offense. That said, Brett Favre will wind up being front and center. They may try to limit what they ask of him, but he's had the success he has because he's got almost that gunslinger mentality. In these kind of games you hope he makes the right decisions, but he's done that more than not through the years.
The trouble spot against the Vikings will obviously be the Packers' secondary. That's where Daunte Culpepper is going to attack. You want the Vikings' big receivers matched up against those smaller Packers corners, and you want to keep testing them throughout the game. The other guy Green Bay needs to watch out for in Minnesota's offense has been its tight end, Jermaine Wiggins. Once they lost Jimmy Kleinsasser, he really has stepped up and shown the ability to some how be in the right place to make plays. And I think his quarterback really trusts him at this point.
This is a game that really appeals to me, of the four this weekend. In that environment, with that rivalry, and all those great players, it'll be intriguing to watch. I think Minnesota has a real shot, even in Lambeau. The mystique is still there somewhat, but even Packers fans, they even boo at Lambeau now. I never thought I'd see that, but they do.