The sports world has flipped on its head through COVID-19. No sports for months on end? No sports betting? Luckily, the NFL might have the exact right start time for the COVID-19 Pandemic downfall. Unlike Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association, the National Football league has time to prepare for COVID-19, including enough time to wait out the curve.
For football, that may mean no fans in the stadiums week one. While some in the NFL Front office have indicated that the stadiums will be filled with fans, like Jay Glayzer, “ Every indication points toward them trying to have a full season with fans being included” Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported.” (https://www.essentiallysports.com/nfl-news-nfls-bold-move-nfl-2020-to-have-fans-in-the-stands/#:~:text=The%20league%20officials%20are%20reportedly,on%20hiatus%20until%20further%20notice.&text=Every%20indication%20points%20toward%20them,Glazer%20of%20Fox%20Sports%20reported.)
For the Green Bay Packers, that means playing in the Big Glass Playhouse which is US Bank Stadium with no fans, just to hear the crowd noise that the Vikings pump in anyways (satire).
In all seriousness, this classic matchup at US Bank stadium could be different.
No fans, no crowd reactions, no booing or cheering.
Even if this matchup is taking place without fans, it would have looked much different with them.
The Vikings no longer have Stefon Diggs, who they traded away to the Buffalo Bills for a bunch of draft picks, including a valuable first-round draft pick. They still have their highly paid Quarterback Kirk Cousins, explosive running back Dalvin Cook, and one of the best defensive fronts in the league The Vikings have had their fair share of victories against your Green Bay Packers in the last few seasons, there is no doubt about that.
The last decade has had the Packers dominate the first half, battle in the second. They, of course, went on to win the Super Bowl in 2010 but ever since the Vikings opened up US Bank Stadium, the purple have more or less dominated the Green and Gold. That may help explain why early betting lines have the Vikings as 3.5-point favorites.
With the Packers having swept the Vikings last season, clinching the NFC North in Minnesota, exceeding all expectations far and away, they are looking to top a 14-win season.
Can they do it? Nobody has that answer. The one factor that is for certain is that if they are to make another run at the Lombardi trophy next season, it starts in Minnesota.
The Packers will have to overcome the Dalvin Cook show. Cook, who tore his ACL in his rookie season, dominated last year, rushing for over 1,100 yards and 13TD’s.
Much like the Packers, the Vikings’ offense wouldn’t be lethal without that star running back. Against the Packers last season, Cook rushed for 154 yards, 1 touchdown in week 2. Rushing for over 100 yards in any game is a solid performance from an NFL running back on Sunday. Against the Packers though, it could be deadly (did you watch how the Packers rush defense performed in the NFC Championship game?).
On the flip side, Aaron Jones is going to be a huge factor in how the Packers play football next season. He will most likely share snaps with 2nd round draft pick AJ Dillon and Jamaal Williams, but Jones will carry the load no doubt and as he should. The Packers rode their train of success with Aaron Jones at the front.
When it comes to facing Aaron Jones, many defenses have to find creative ways to stop him. With that challenge in mind, the Vikings may be on some what of a defensive restructure, if not a slight rebuild. As of the beginning of June, the Vikings’ departures on defense include: Everson Griffin, Linval Joseph, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Xavier Rhodes, Andrew Sendejo, Stephen Weatherly, and Jayron Kearse, per ESPN. That is a lengthy list. If the Vikings plan on stopping Aaron Jones as a team, they will have to have formed a new image on defense, and given the fact that the first time that newly formed defense will line up against Aaron Jones in week one gives Jones the advantage.
Both sides of the ball will have to work out their knots on their respective sides of the ball, but Aaron Jones could be a huge factor in what happens week 1.
The Packers’ offense in week 1 will almost have to be status-quo. They are transitioning to more of a Shanahan type of offense, where their use of Tight-ends, full backs is more common. Packers fans should no longer expect to see the West Coast style of the Mike McCarthy era, even if it was more fun to watch.
The Packers’ offense will be more creative come next season. Second year head coach Matt LaFleur has had more time than ever on his hands, allowing him to morph his own LaFleurian style offense, if you will.
Week one could be a huge guessing game, quite literally, as to what the other side is going to do.
The Vikings drafted extremely talented Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson at Pick 22 in the 2020 NFL Draft, and with that, reshaped their defense.
The Packers selected the future of their franchise in QB Jordan Love, with RB AJ Dillon, TE Josiah Deguara thrown into the mix, the Vikings are going to have plenty of looks that they have never seen from an Aaron Rodgers offense.
In the end, this game could have many outcomes. The optimism for the Packers is growing. No fans in US Bank? The Vikings won’t be able to handle the silence. If there is fans, though, expect one heck of a matchup as always.