Player Team Tackles Sacks Int FF TD
Jairus Byrd Bills 45 0 9 0 0
Darren Sharper Saints 54 0.5 8 0 3
Charles Woodson Packers 61 2 8 4 2
Asante Samuel Eagles 31 0 7 1 0
Nick Collins Packers 41 1 6 0 0
Player Team Att Yds Yds/A Long TD Yds/G Fum
Chris Johnson Titans 272 1626 6 91 11 125.1 1
Steven Jackson Rams 284 1271 4.5 58 4 97.8 2
Adrian Peterson Vikings 269 1200 4.5 64 14 92.3 6
Thomas Jones Jets 262 1167 4.5 71 11 89.8 2
Maurice Jones-Drew Jaguars 251 1136 4.5 80 14 87.4 1
DeAngelo Williams Panthers 210 1104 5.3 77 7 92 3
Ryan Grant Packers 247 1068 4.3 62 7 82.2 0

Drew Brees Saints 432 302 69.9 3832 8.87 75 32 10 15 112.3 295
Brett Favre Vikings 433 295 68.1 3341 7.72 63 27 6 27 106 257
Philip Rivers Chargers 406 263 64.8 3583 8.83 81 22 7 22 103.7 276
Aaron Rodgers Packers 444 291 65.5 3579 8.06 74 25 7 48 102.5 275
Peyton Manning Colts 502 342 68.1 3905 7.78 80 29 14 10 98.9 300

The Green Bay Packers (5-4) host the San Francisco 49ers (4-5) in Lambeau Field at 12 p.m.

The Packers are finally starting to play the zone-blitz defense that was successful during the preseason, and it showed against the Cowboys (5  sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 interception).  This should work even better against quarterback Alex Smith, who has been benched several times in his career for poor performances.

The 49ers have playmaking receiver threats with tight end Vernon Davis and rookie wide out Michael Crabtree, but they depend on running back Frank Gore to lead their drives.

Green Bay ranks third in yards per carry allowed (3.5) and fourth in yards per game allowed (93.1).

The 49ers’ D-line is just a little better.

The 49ers rank first in yards per carry allowed (3.3) and second in yards per game allowed (69.3).

Green Bay is not a run-first team and relies on their passing game to set the tone for the game. The Packers are quick to ditch the running game, if they even attempt one at all.  Instead, expect the West Coast style of short passes to replace the running attack, which they resort to against average run stopping defenses.  The Packers will use this game plan even more against one of the best run stopping teams in the league.

The offensive line, which has been the team’s biggest weakness, and Aaron Rodgers have finally gelled.  This does not mean they are good.  It just means they know what they can and can not do and game plan around it (which is a step in the right direction and probably as good as it will be for the rest of this season).

The Packers are favored by six points, but this is a must win game for the 49ers (similar to the Packers last week) and previous play and records do not matter when a team’s season is on the line.

1)  Hand-size: The spread of his throwing hand is 10 1/4 inches (Most quarterbacks are between nine and 10 inch spreads, and Brett Favre has a 10 3/8 inch spread.)  Hand size is very important in the winter months in Green Bay.  When the temperature is below freezing, the ball is cold, hard, and slippery.  Larger hands help A-Rodg hold on to the ball in poor conditions, cutting back on fumbles and bad passes.

2)  Vision: In his second year as a starter, A-Rodg has the vision of a crafty veteran.  When he looks for receivers he uses his eyes and not his head/neck.  The Packers have a white stripe down the center of their helmets, so if a quarterback turns his head to find the open player the defense can look at the white stripe to get a read on the play.  By using his eyes and not his head, A-Rodg leaves opponents guessing to where he is going to throw the ball.

3)  Attitude: Going into last week’s game, A-Rodg was sacked a league leading total of 25 times.  Many of these sacks can be attributed to a weak offensive line.  When continually asked about the sack problem, he does not take the media’s bait.  He says that is something we all need to improve on as a team.  He has every reason to blame the offensive line, but he doesn’t.

4)Throwing Power and Accuracy: A-Rodg can throw any pass:  down-and-in, down-and-out, stop-and-go, the deep ball, slant in, slant out, screen and the quick out.  Not only can he make any type of football pass, but he also knows where to put the ball without getting his wide receivers hit.  He hits his receivers in stride and inbetween the numbers on their jersey.  Some quarterbacks set their receivers up for disaster, for example, a ball thrown high across the middle will get the receiver hit by a safety.

Next week sets the tone for how the rest of the NFC North plays out.  If the Vikings (6-1) win, they will have a two game lead over the Packers (4-2) and the Chicago Bears (if they defeat the Cleveland Browns (1-6) on Sunday, otherwise a three game difference).  If the Packers win, they will be tied for first place with the Vikings with nine games (for the Packers) left to play.

Earlier this month, the Packers went to the Metrodome and lost 30-23 to the Vikings.

The Packers defense held Adrian Peterson to 55 rushing yards, but allowed Brett Favre to throw for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

The Packers offensive line allowed eight sacks.  Jared Allen had 4.5 sacks, including a safety.  Somehow, Aaron Rodgers still threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns.

Since the last meeting, the Packers offensive line has improved.  Starting left tackle Chad Clifton is still out, but his back-up Darren Colledge, who gave up more than half of the eight sacks allowed, no longer starts.  The Packers will probably start J.D. Lang, who did not allow a sack in his start last week against the Cleveland Browns.

The Vikings are coming off their first lost of the season to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  If it wasn’t for a last second missed field goal by the Baltimore Ravens the Vikes would have lost two in a row.

While the Packers have won two in a row, they still have a lot to prove against their division rival.  Sunday’s game determines how close the division race will be.  If the Packers want a share of first place they will have to come out and earn it.  And if they lay an egg, they will be two games behind the Vikings for the division lead.

Everything seemed to work when the Packers  (4-2) went on the road to defeat the Browns (1-6) 31-3 on Oct. 25.

Without injured starting left tackle Chad Clifton, the Packers’ offensive line did not give up a sack.  Going into the game, the Packers had a league-high of 25 sacks allowed.

Aaron Rodgers threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns.

The offensive line was also making holes like it was 2003 again.  For the first time this season, Ryan Grant rushed for more than 100 yards, finishing with 148 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Green Bay finished with 460 yards of total offense, while the defense held the Browns to just 139 yards.  In seven games this season, the Browns have four offensive touchdowns and scored 72 total points.

Packers still had eight penalties; that’s something they will have to fix when they play the first place Vikings (6-1) next week.