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Vikings will set out to rattle QB Rodgers; NFL MINNESOTA at GREEN BAY & DENVER at OAKLAND SKY SPORTS 1 midnight.

Byline: By Simon Milham

FOR the first time since 1991, a total of 275 games ago, Brett Favre won't be the starting quarterback in Green Bay.

Aaron Rodgers makes his first career start since Favre's retirement U-turn saw him head to the New York Jets.

What a welcome there is in store - facing the NFL sack leader Jared Allen, who has joined Minnesota from Kansas City, and one of the best run defences in the league.

The Vikings finished last in the NFL in pass defence in 2007 but they hope the consistent pressure Allen will provide from the edge will make life far more difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

Rodgers looked very good in relief of Favre last season, particularly when completing 18 passes from 26 attempts in a 201- yard effort against a strong Dallas pass-rush in Week 13. He also rushed for 30 yards, and appeared cool in his first meaningful action.

Though he has thrown just 59 passes in his NFL career, the Cowboys game taught us that Rodgers is capable of thriving within the Packers' system and that their offensive wasn't just down to Favre.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will hope that he gets clear more often than when he had just 45 yards from 11 carries in the last meeting between these teams, a day when QB Tavaris Jackson was ruled out through injury and a 34-0 Week Ten rout ensued.

The Packers have won the last four meetings, but interestingly the road team has covered the handicap spread in ten of the last 12 in the series.

Don't read too much into the Vikings' supposedly weak pass defence in 2007. They had to deal with injuries and to absorb coordinator Leslie Frazier's new system.

They should be much improved and if the Vikings rattle Rodgers, they might even spring an upset.

Recommendation

Minnesota +2.5

2pts Evs Totesport

Bet365 - first scoring play: 7-4 GB touchdown, 12-5 GB field goal, 100 any other GB score; 9-4 MIN touchdown, 3 MIN field goal, 100 any other MIN score; To score first: 20-23 MIN, 4-5 GB; Race to ten points: 20-21 MIN, 4-5 GB, 33 neither team.

THE LOWDOWN

MINNESOTA AT GREEN BAY

Venue Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

TV Live on Sky Sports 1, midnight tonight

Surface Grass Weather Chance of showers, light wind, 60F

VIKINGS

Probable starting offence 2007 rank 13

LT B McKinnie 74, LG S Hutchinson 76, C M Birk 78, RG A Herrera 64, RT R Cook 62, WR S Rice 18, B Berrian 87, RB A Peterson 28, QB T Jackson 7, FB T Tapeh 44, TE V Shiancoe 81.

Probable starting defence 2007 rank 20

LE R Edwards 91, DT P Williams 94, K Williams 93, RE J Allen 69, LB B Leber 51, C Greenway 52, E Henderson 56, CB A Winfield 26, C Griffin 23, SS D Sharper 42, FS M Williams 20.

PACKERS

Probable starting offence 2007 rank 2

LT C Clifton 76, LG D Colledge 73, C S Wells 63, RG J Spitz 72, RT M Tauscher 65, WR D Driver 80, G Jennings 85, RB R Grant 25, FB K Hall 35, QB A Rodgers 12, TE D Lee 86.

Probable starting defence 2007 rank 11

LE A Kampman 74, DT J Jolly 97, R Pickett 79, RE C Jenkins 77, LB A Hawk 50, N Barnett 56, B Poppinga 51, CB C Woodson 21, A Harris 31, SS A Bigby 20, FS N Collins 36.

TEAM NEWS

Minnesota

Safety Madieu Williams is out (neck) and back-up RB Maurice Hicks (foot) is a doubt. Tackle Bryant McKinnie is suspended. QB Tavaris Jackson (knee) looks ready to go.

Green Bay

RB Ryan Grant (hamstring) and DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) missed Friday's practice as a precaution. Center Scott Wells (back) and LB A.J. Hawk (chest) are game-time decisions. WR James Jones is a major doubt and Guard Josh Sitton (knee) is out.

CAPTION(S):

Aaron Rodgers steps out of Brett Favre's shadow tonight
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 8, 2008
Words:668
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