The Green Bay Packers find themselves in a must win situation this week against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.

Last week the Packers lost their third straight game, this time to the New York Giants in a 27-13 result.

Scott Tolzien threw for 339 yards, but also had three interceptions. The Giants clearly didn’t respect the passing game as they stacked the box and held the Packers’ running game in check. Eddie Lacy had 27 yards on 14 attempts.

The Packers defense continued to have miscues and blown coverages, especially in the secondary. I think some of these issues are from the constant influx of lineup changes due to injuries. Last week Hayward was down, as was Shields. It’s hard for guys to settle into positions when they’re constantly being moved around, especially younger players.

I also think the way the officials call the game affects the way players play defense. We’ve seen several tackling issues in games this year. Defensive players are having to learn a new way to tackle because of all the safety initiatives being implemented by the NFL. When you have such a small window to hit on the offensive player’s body, lots of tackles will be missed.

Combine that with the fact the new collective bargaining agreement enacted back in 2011, teams are no longer allowed to hold two-a-day practices. The agreement also placed limits on the number of full-contact padded practices a team can hold. I think this thoroughly affects the physicality of defenses and tackling skills.

With all that being said, I think the Packers are dealing with a young defense full of injuries, and the lack of practice time definitely hurts.

When quarterback Aaron Rodgers was healthy, he covered up a lot of these issues with his superb play.

The Vikings were beaten last week by the Seattle Seahawks 41-20.

Both of these teams are dealing with a plethora of injuries. The Vikings Adrian Peterson is banged up and hasn’t practiced this week, but will most likely suit up. This big story this week will be the return of Greg Jennings to Lambeau Field. Jennings has been nursing a sore Achilles, but will also most likely play.

Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson is out with a chest injury, so Xavier Rhodes will start. Safety Harrison Smith is also out with turf toe, so Andrew Sendejo will take his place.

For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers will miss another week, so Scott Tolzien will be making his second start. Also out are Randal Cobb, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, and Casey Hayward. Sam Shields sounds like a game time decision. Cornerback Micah Hyde is also nursing a groin injury. The Packers secondary can ill afford to miss anyone else.

Tackle Don Barclay also hasn’t practiced this week with a sore knee, and appears likely out. This mean Marshall Newhouse will likely be at right tackle where he has struggled. Also on the Packers injury report are linebacker Nick Perry, defensive end Johnny Jolly, and cornerback James Nixon.

The Packers absolutely have to have this game if they want to keep their chances alive to win the division. It’s hard to imagine a wild card team coming out of the NFC North with teams like Carolina and San Francisco playing well.

This will be an ugly game, but I think the Packers get a win 21-13.


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