Game Info: Sunday, September 16th at 12:00PM on FOX: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Odds: TBD based on Aaron Rodgers’ Availability
Minnesota Vikings: 1-0 (2017 record 13-3, 2-0 vs Packers)
Head Coach: Mike Zimmer (41-27, fifth season, 4-4 vs Packers)
All-Time Series: Packers lead 60-53-2 (1-1 in Playoffs)
Injury Report: CB Mackensie Alexander (QUES-ankle), CB Trae Waynes (PROB-knee), C Pat Elflein (OUT-ankle/shoulder), RB Roc Thomas (PROB-ankle), DE Everson Griffen (PROB-toe).
Minnesota Expected Lineup:
|OFFENSE||DEFENSE (4-3 alignment)|
|QB||8||Kirk Cousins||LDE||99||Danielle Hunter|
|RB||33||Dalvin Cook||NT||98||Linval Joseph|
|RB2||25||Latavius Murray||DT||93||Sheldon Richardson|
|FB||30||CJ Ham||RDE||97||Everson Griffen|
|WR1||19||Adam Thielen||SLB||55||Anthony Barr|
|WR2||14||Stefon Diggs||MLB||54||Eric Kendricks|
|WR3||11||Laquon Treadwell||WLB||42||Ben Gedeon|
|TE:||82||Kyle Rudolph||CB||26||Trae Waynes|
|TE:||89||David Morgan II||FS||22||Harrison Smith|
|LT||71||Riley Reiff||SS||34||Andrew Sendejo|
|LG||79||Tom Compton||CB||29||Xavier Rhodes|
|C||65||Pat Elflein||CB||21||Mike Hughes|
|RG||74||Mike Remmers||K||7||Daniel Carlson|
|RT||69||Rashod Hill||P||6||Matt Wile|
The Vikings come to Lambeau Field after a week one 24-16 victory against the San Francisco 49ers. The Vikings controlled most of the contest and handed QB Jimmy Garoppolo his first loss in his eighth start in the NFL. Green Bay on the other hand, overcame a 20-point deficit at home to beat the Chicago Bears and win their sixth straight home opener. While the Vikings have had the upper hand in the series in the most recent memory, winning four of the last five, the Packers are 9-3-1 against Minnesota at Lambeau Field under Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
It is still unknown if QB Aaron Rodgers will start against the Vikings a week after suffering a knee sprain against the Bears, but one thing is certain is that Rodgers will give every effort possible to strike revenge against the team that ruined his 2017 season. The debate has taken over sports talk radio the last week over whether or not Rodgers not only “can play” but also whether or not he “should play” especially after Vikings’ LB Anthony Barr unnecessarily piledrove Rodgers into the U.S. Bank stadium turf on October 15th last year, a play which broke Rodgers’ collarbone. Going forward plays in similar context would be deemed a penalty going forward known as the so-called “Aaron Rodgers Rule.” Game officials will start to monitor and penalize defenders for landing on a quarterback with all or most of their body weight as the passer sets up to throw.
The Vikings would go on to sweep the season series, which included a 16-0 shutout in their last meeting on December 23rd of last year, a taste that will always leave a bitter taste in the mouth for the Packers. With the Vikings and Packers jostling each other for the NFC North crown this game was circled when the schedules were released, and without the services of the two-time MVP Quarterback, it would put the Packers in a very difficult position, as evident by the play of their backup Quarterbacks of recent memory, in Brett Hundley in 2017 and DeShone Kizer last week. Kizer, while filling in for Rodgers, went 4/7 for 55 yards and had two costly turnovers, the first being a fumble in the red one and the second an errant interception that was returned for a touchdown, thus again providing little faith behind #12.
DISPLAYING DEPTH ON BOTH SIDES OF THE FOOTBALL
While the Minnesota defense may garner all the attention as a unit to be reckon with in the NFC North, the Packers’ offense displayed their firepower in the second half last Sunday. WRs Randall Cobb (9 rec.,142 yds. and a TD), Davante Adams (5 rec., 88 yds. and a TD) and Geronimo Allison (5 rec. for 69 yds and a TD) became the first trio of Packers with 5+ receptions for 65+ yards and at least one touchdown in the same game in franchise history. The receiving trio will get an early litmus test against Minnesota and they will need to have another outstanding outing for Green Bay to earn a victory.
The Vikings’ defensive backfield, which was already considered one of the NFL’s top five secondaries, got a boost in the offseason drafting CB Mike Hughes (1st Round- UCF) to add to the explosive secondary already featuring First Team All-Pro’s in CB Xavier Rhodes and FS Harrison Smith. In week one Hughes made his presence felt right away in the second quarter by intercepting Garoppolo and returning the ball 28-yards for a touchdown to help the Vikings pull away from the 49ers 17-3.
A surprise cut made by Minnesota in the preseason was releasing defensive end Brian Robison who had been a starter from 2011-2016 and a contributing reserve last year. The team instead went with bulking up their interior defense. With the addition of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (FA-Seattle) to pair with Linval Joseph, the Vikings will give every team fits up the middle, and they bolstered the depth behind the two studs with David Parry (FA-Indianapolis) , Jalyn Holmes (4th Round Pick-Ohio State) and last year’s fourth round pick Jaleel Johnson in order to be able to keep them fresh and their motors high. Linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks make plays all over the field and help solidify and anchor the defense.
On offense Kirk Cousins, Minnesota’s $84 million investment at Quarterback will make his first start against the Packers in purple. As a member of the Washington Redskins Cousins has had mixed results against the Packers. In the 2015 Wild Card Playoff game in Washington, Cousins went 29/46 for 329 yards with both a passing and rushing touchdown but fumbled three times (losing one) in a 35-18 Packers victory. In 2016, also in Washington, Cousins turned in one of his best statistical efforts going 21/30 for 376 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-24 Redskins victory. Behind Cousins sit Trevor Siemian, who was acquired in a trade with Denver to fulfill the backup slot, and Kyle Sloter the former undrafted free agent who displayed some eye-catching moments in the preseason to be elevated from the practice squad to earn a spot on the roster.
The Vikings will also look to get much more production from Laquon Treadwell as their third wide receiver option behind incumbent fantasy football household names in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Treadwell, the 2016 first round pick, had 21 career receptions going into 2018 and turned in only two receptions for 18 yards on four targets in week one against San Francisco. Treadwell will most likely occupy the outside as Thielen will handle slot duties, so expect Treadwell to have a hard time breaking free against a much improved (thus far) Packers’ secondary.
Sunday, December 11th , 1988: The 2-12 Packers defeat the 10-4 Minnesota Vikings by a score of 18-6 at Lambeau Field
The Packers finished the 1988 season 4-12, however two of their wins were against the Vikings who would finish 11-5 before succumbing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Playoff round.
NEXT MATCHUP vs VIKINGS: Sunday, November 25th at 7:20PM on NBC: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN