The Green Bay Packers are an up and down team that have the talent to win it all, but they aren’t showing solidarity and unity so far this season. The Minnesota Vikings are a young team with a rookie quarterback that has now shown what he can do, and could cause problems for opposing defenses. This is not going to be a mismatch at all, and those that tune into “Thursday Night Football” on CBS are in for one heck of a game.

CBS Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein took some time to speak with me about this week’s game and the outlook for both teams this season. Beuerlein had 17 seasons in the league and played six different teams so he knows how to win and what it takes for teams to succeed.

Teddy Bridgewater’s first start was a successful one…how do you think he will fare under the lights of Lambeau Field?
Steve Beuerlein: “I think it’s going to be a little bit of a rude awakening for him…for a couple of reasons. One, he’s going to Lambeau Field in a big national game, he’s bumped up a little bit with his ankle. The Packers are playing better football and they’ve got some confidence back. The real key is, and I’ve gone on record as saying this many times is that a rookie quarterback on a short week is almost always a recipe for disaster.

They’ve never had to prepare that quickly for a game in their life. They’re still learning their offense. They’re still learning how to play at the pro level. To have only three days to get ready for a game is overwhelming. Ask Kirk Cousins last week. He had a great game the Sunday before and looked like he had no idea what was going on come Thursday.”

Green Bay has been up and down through four games, what’s something they need to do in order to get back to old form?

SB: “I think they are heading that way right now. Aaron Rodgers is back on track and playing at the level he’s playing at…if they can get that offense rolling, that makes them competitive with anybody. The real key for Green Bay is their defense. It is not at the same level as last year’s. If they can get the defense going…Dom Capers, I know him very well, I’ve played for him…he’s a great defensive coach. Get that defense playing at a high level, then this team will be able to respond and play with anybody.”

Vikings rookie running back Jerick McKinnon came out of nowhere with a huge game against the Falcons.  Do you think that kind of success will be possible against the Packers’ defense?

SB: “Here’s what I think is going to happen Thursday. The Vikings ran the ball extremely well against Atlanta whose defense is pretty weak. McKinnon and Matt Asiata…guess what, the Packers know who they are now. Packers are going to come up and stack the box. They’re going to say ‘Teddy Bridgewater, with your bum ankle, let’s see if you can beat us because we’re taking away your running game.'”

The NFC North is a very tight division with the Lions having a one game lead on the Packers, Vikings, and Bears.  How do you see the division playing out this season?

SB: “That’s a good question. The only team that you can really confidently say can keep going if they get rolling is Green Bay. The way they’ve started playing now, I think they have got to become the favorite even though they’re one game back of the Lions. I really like (Matthew) Stafford and the weapons he’s got with (Reggie) Bush, Golden Tate, and Calvin Johnson…they’ve all stepped up. If their defense plays well, they can play with anybody as well.

Green Bay, they’re the team I feel more comfortable hanging my hat on. I think the upside for Detroit is much greater, but Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, it’s hard to put anybody ahead of them.”

Green Bay has won seven of the last eight games against the Vikings.  Is there any one thing about this Minnesota team that you feel puts them ahead all of the losing teams from the last few years?

SB: “Running the ball will have to be the focus for them to win. If Minnesota can run the ball, then they have a chance to win the game. But I really don’t think they’re going to be able to run the ball.”

Who is the key player to a Vikings’ victory?

SB: “This is going to sound stupid, but it’s the quarterbacks. Teddy Bridgewater is going to be the key for the a little banged up, and he needs to play at his best for the Vikings to win. If he can surprise and play well on a short week with a bum ankle, then I think they have a chance, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Who is the key player to a Packers’ victory?

SB: “It comes down to Aaron Rodgers. He’s always the key, even more than the defense.”

Any prediction for Thursday night’s game?

SB: “Actually, yes I do. I think it’s going to be Green Bay in a rout. I think they are going to win very handily. Lambeau Field…Thursday night…short week…Packers getting their confidence up. I think that’s a recipe for disaster for Minnesota.”

Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on