Packers Can Turn Around Division Woes

The Packers have a chance to start 2-0 on the season and in the NFC North with a win Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings

 

 

The Green Bay Packers are 2-6-1 in their last nine games against division foes since winning the NFC North in 2016.

Both wins came against the Chicago Bears and they have not defeated the Minnesota Vikings or the Detroit Lions in over two seasons.

After starting out with a division win against the Bears last week, the Packers can make it 2-for-2 by beating the Vikings this week.  A win would also give Green Bay a nice divisional advantage in the early goings of 2019.

The last two seasons have been far from ordinary so the poor mark against North opponents isn't without some obvious explanations.

In 2017, Aaron Rodgers was lost in mid-October and didn't return until December.  The Packers were swept by both the Vikings and Lions that season.

In 2018, Rodgers started and played in all 16 games but the team was in disarray and the offense was putrid, at times.  Throw in a complete career brain fart by kicker Mason Crosby in Detroit and, once again, the Packers failed to beat either the Lions or Vikings.

After last week's opener against the Bears, these Packers appear poised to reverse this divisional trend.  The defense is stout, Rodgers is back and healthy and the Matt LaFleur offense will continue to take shape.  Crosby made his only attempt last week so here's hoping last year's struggles were another anomaly sprinkled in an otherwise successful career.

It has been nearly 1,000 days since the Packers beat a North team other than Chicago.  A win this Sunday ends that counter and plants Green Bay firmly atop the NFC North, once again.

Green Bay hosts Detroit on Monday night in October and then faces each North team on the road before the season ends, finishing in Detroit in week 17.  The last time the Packers were in Detroit on season finale weekend, they won to clinch the division and a playoff berth.

Whatever the rest of this season has in store for the Packers, a chance to jump out in first place awaits them at the friendliest of places: Lambeau Field.

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (34)

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Hematite's picture

September 11, 2019 at 03:14 pm

I believe that the Packers win this game against the Vikings.
GO PACK GO!

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Samson's picture

September 11, 2019 at 03:15 pm

The game's at Lambeau, season home opener.
The "D" is already one of the NFC's best.
The "O" behind AR & AJ will only improve.

There's no real reason the Pack won't be 2-0 after the Viking game & on their way to the North Division crown.

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Packer_Fan's picture

September 11, 2019 at 03:30 pm

The season is long. We should have started 2-0 last year except for the roughing the passer fiasco. Which means you need to take each game by itself. Last years record has little meaning. This will be another tough game as the Packer offense will be tested as they hopefully get some more game practice. And the defense will be challenged to shut down or at least control the running game of the Vikings. So I am hoping the offense develops more, and defense hangs tough and injuries are minimal. And victory number two is in the books. Go Pack.

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Packer_Fan's picture

September 11, 2019 at 03:30 pm

The season is long. We should have started 2-0 last year except for the roughing the passer fiasco. Which means you need to take each game by itself. Last years record has little meaning. This will be another tough game as the Packer offense will be tested as they hopefully get some more game practice. And the defense will be challenged to shut down or at least control the running game of the Vikings. So I am hoping the offense develops more, and defense hangs tough and injuries are minimal. And victory number two is in the books. Go Pack.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

September 11, 2019 at 04:05 pm

like it or not...Rodgers is NOT the QB he once was.......he hesitates WAY too much...has been very inaccurate in his passes....and his ball velocity has greatly reduced since about '15.....he couldn't even throw it to the end zone from that Hail Mary in Chicago....he's also slowed way down in his running....watch video from several years ago.....you will be disappointed....

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 11, 2019 at 05:53 pm

I agree with this. You look at the Brees and Brady. How have they aged so well? Sound mechanics and fundamentals. The only way to combat eroding physical traits is the basics. Rodgers needs to go back to stepping into throws on time, in rhythm with his dropbacks. He hasn't done that since probably '12 or '13. 14' is actually when he started playing off schedule and fell in love with the highlight reel homerun type plays.

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ThxJackVainisi's picture

September 11, 2019 at 08:15 pm

TheBigCheese wrote what 'can't be written' (JK): Blatant criticism of Rodgers. I think ShanghaiKid hit at the core of Rodgers' problems: As an example, look at his footwork on the long pass to MVS. He slides to his left as he influences the safety by looking to his left. As he throws the ball, his left foot still points to where he was looking and instead of following through on the throw by bringing his right foot forward toward his target, he 'falls away' to his left.

Of course that's only one example and while I don't know how long this has been happening I hope the QB coach, the OC, and/or the HC emphasizes the importance of footwork to him. He's said he wants to be coached: Please someone coach him.

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Nick Perry's picture

September 12, 2019 at 06:47 am

" He hasn't done that since probably '12 or '13. 14"

Do you mean when he had Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Finley, Cobb, and/or Driver??

Every one of those guys was a 2nd or 3rd round pick except Driver who was at the very end of an awesome career. They were also on the cover of Sports Illustrated. IMO that was one of the best WR groups ever assembled from top to bottom in the NFL. Just saying friend....

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 12, 2019 at 07:32 am

I don’t disagree on the collection of talent NP, not at all. But he wasn’t always throwing to guys that were open. He’d “throw them open” on time, in rhythm. He just doesn’t do that anymore. If you don’t believe me go back and watch his 6 TD game vs HOU, or his most yards in a game vs WAS.

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Kubyskins12's picture

September 13, 2019 at 08:31 am

Right on the money Shanghaikid. I been saying the same things. The only thing that I may not totally agree on is the arm strength but the accuracy, playing with anticipation and throwing guys open, getting the ball out on time and playing in rhythm with your offense has not happened since the 14 season. My theory is for what ever reason ever since Jordy got injured he’s been playing that hold the ball off schedule schoolyard football crap. It’s so annoying just get the ball out on time. When he does that he plays way better. Second half of the Bears game last year is a perfect example of this. My hope is that the new offense and the new coaching staff can get him throw guys open and be more willing to throw it into some tighter windows and get the ball out on time better, be willing to hit the check downs and also utilize the middle of the field more and not play so in fear of throwing picks this year. Get him trust his wrs to make a play but the first game look just like the last two or three years.

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optimisticfan's picture

September 12, 2019 at 06:22 am

Even if Rodgers has slipped. The question for me is how much? One game where the offense is still getting tinkered with and they were facing one of the best Ds in the league is not enough of an observation to make a reasoned decision about Rodgers. Last year on a broken leg is not fair to assess his skills either.

So we will see how much he has slipped from years ago as the games go on. My guess would be only a little bit of a drop off. The main point is that he doesn’t have to be MVP level or even a top 5 QB level to succeed with this offense if he plays within the system. They could win a Super Bowl next year with his (likely) current level of abilities. No way is it time to move on from him soon. Yes draft a 1st or 2nd round QB in 2020. But give the drafted QB a few years to learn from a HOF QB in Rodgers.

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ThxJackVainisi's picture

September 12, 2019 at 06:35 am

I agree it is just a matter of degree and not Rodgers' skills 'falling off a cliff'. I think that would be all the more obvious if he would improve his footwork.

I also wonder if Rodgers frequently taking the play clock down towards 0 against the Bears as he has in the past was a function of LaFleur not getting plays in on time or Rodgers reverting to old habits. If that's on the HC, he really needs to improve since its his offense that mandates a quicker pace.

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ShanghaiKid's picture

September 12, 2019 at 07:35 am

I think you’re taking what I said out of context. I never said move on. My point is Rodgers isn’t a spring chicken. And let’s be real he doesn’t throw the ball with the same velocity he did in ‘14 or even 16’. How have Brady and Brees extended their careers? By playing fundamentally sound football, and not taking the big hits. I’d love it if Rodgers played to 40. To do that he needs to adjust his game. That was really my overarching point.

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murf7777's picture

September 12, 2019 at 09:41 pm

5 years ago Pats fans wanted to put Brady to the pasture...why, because they thought age caught up to him. What a Hugh mistake that would’ve been. His arm strength is still there as per the 50 yard pass body turned left and hitting MVS to the right. If he stays healthy this year he will prove the naysayers wrong.

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Lphill's picture

September 11, 2019 at 04:17 pm

Packers will be all over Cousins in this game, the D B ‘s are gang tackling at the point of the catch, if Rodgers gets protection the offense will be fine.

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Freezn's picture

September 11, 2019 at 11:01 pm

I believe it will be another feeding frenzy for the smiths ad the rest of our hungry defense

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mrtundra's picture

September 12, 2019 at 08:26 am

Look for lots of holding penalties on Minnesota along the OLine, all game long.

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badaxed's picture

September 11, 2019 at 05:44 pm

We should be glad we have a defense, because we sure do not have an offense. The Viking defense appears to be ever bit as good as the Bears by the way they played the Falcons. Look for a lot of 3 and outs from the packer offense if the Vikings play the same way as they played against the Falcons and the Packers play the same way as they did against the Bears.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 11, 2019 at 06:01 pm

It’s really really early for predicting the outcome of the season. But right now our offense looks a bit weak and out of sync. That’s to be expected for a newish offense. Many people predicted that the offense might have a slow start. Perhaps it will be like the Bears game with a slow start and a stronger finish and the defense will again have to carry the day. My safe guess is that Cook will have a lot of yards but Cousins will not.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 11, 2019 at 07:03 pm

I think you’re right, but if Cook has a game even remotely similar to last week, that is going to put a ton of pressure on the GB offense to make the most of every possession.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 12, 2019 at 12:50 am

GB is still in Regular Season Camp.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 12, 2019 at 07:32 am

TGR comment hit the nail on the head. Simply put, the HC and position coaches do not have a 'feel' for their players yet. MLF made a passing reference to that in his post game presser. As is, the offense is still a work in progress.

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greengold's picture

September 12, 2019 at 09:46 am

I think our offense is progressing in LaFleur's new system. Figure, this is the first game where we will see his coaching and adjustments from a previous game. This Packers offense is loaded with talent. I firmly believe our OL and Aaron Rodgers himself will come out on a mission to prove last week was a fluke. I believe LaFleur will too. He's going to be wanting to prove his new system and leadership works.

Our D is incredibly good all the way around. I doubt Cook will gain a ton of yds, as every one of our defenders is a willing tackler, and our EDGE players really are proven at holding the edge in the run game. Cousins will be in for the fight of his life against our pass rush, and I can easily see him having 5 turnovers Fumbles/INTs alone. This is NOT the defense they ran all over last season against the Packers in week two.

Just hoping we come out of this healthy and with the W!

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Tundraboy's picture

September 12, 2019 at 08:15 am

Rise up, slay the Vikings. I expect the Lambeau crowd to have animpact as well. Hope to see a moment early that gets the crowd into it. Then we'll take care of the Lions next.

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nostradanus's picture

September 12, 2019 at 07:51 am

R-E-L-A-X

Rogers will return to form and Slay the Vikings with his mighty Thunderbolt!

Go Pack!

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stockholder's picture

September 12, 2019 at 08:14 am

The battle at Lambeau must lead to the end of Viking influence. Cook had fumbling issues and character concerns in college. Thielen is their best player on offense. Cousins was Captain Kirk at Washington. He's a jelly fish, and Cunningham,Culpepper and Favre were better Qbs. Smith should know him well. The Vikings have a young OL. The biggest concern for them is their kicker. Their weak side LB will be tested. The real Vikings attacked Scotland. We won't need Irish luck to beat the Vikings.

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hobowilly's picture

September 12, 2019 at 02:24 pm

Hah, loved it: "The real Vikings attacked Scotland". Folks, this will be a good chess match between the new HC vs Zimmer...i like the Packers chances opening up @ home against the queens.

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mrtundra's picture

September 12, 2019 at 08:30 am

Time to payback Barr for his hit on Rodgers. Never forget!

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JHitTheB's picture

September 12, 2019 at 10:13 am

For all of you in the "AR holds the ball" crowd, I ask you: other than Davante Adams, which GB WR has

A) demonstrated the ability to consistently beat their man 1v1 or even get a release off the LoS

B) demonstrated the ability to catch the ball in traffic or make contested grabs

C) demonstrated the awareness to break off a route and come back to the ball if a play breaks down

D) has established themselves as a reliable 3rd down or endzone target

Fact is - GB needs a legit #2 WR. Point blank period. That guy is not currently on the roster.

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ThxJackVainisi's picture

September 12, 2019 at 12:45 pm

For all of you in the "AR never holds the ball too long" crowd, I ask you:
Haven't you noticed his ignoring receivers open on short and intermediate routes in an attempt to hit a big play? It's been going on for some time now. Honestly if you haven't noticed it you just aren't paying attention. What disappointed some of us was we were hoping LaFleur's O would eliminate a lot of that.

Look, I'm a big fan of Aaron Rodgers and I expect his performance will improve this week. I also think he and the offense will look better as the season progresses. But that doesn't mean I should ignore his poor play, or his (few) faults. None of us are perfect and that includes Aaron Rodgers.

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hobowilly's picture

September 12, 2019 at 02:30 pm

yo Jack, i'd tend to agree. Honestly i thought MLF and Getsy would coach up AR to release the ball .5 to 1.0 seconds sooner in his overall play. perhaps that is still coming. One wrote that AR's footwork is getting "lazy" (eg should have his front ft pointing toward where the ball is released); none of us are specialized coaches, but one would think Getsy along with Hackett and MLF would analyze all this and work to improve it. We don't know that they are not working on it. Everyone can improve, i thought i heard both AR and MLF say so. Look for an even more pronounced increase in tempo this Sunday....it "should" suit GB's O well. Packers 23-13, but i'd take a 1 pt win anyday. Just don't invite horrible end game calls that remove a "w".

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JHitTheB's picture

September 12, 2019 at 03:38 pm

No one said he was perfect. I've seen him not throw to JMon. I wouldn't either. I have seen him skip the open 4-5 yarder on 3rd and long trying to get a 1st. I have also seen him try to unnecessarily force it to butterfingers Graham in the endzone. I have seen people say he missed an "open" WR that had a safety sitting on top of the route ready to crash the play. I have seen 3 guys running to the same spot allowing the D to guard 3 WRs with 1 player. I have also seen him miss some routine throws he usually hits in his sleep. What I have seen more than any of those things is AR running for his life because the OL was horrendous and allowed pressure as soon as the ball was snapped and more often than not WRs aren't open for the quick pass.

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murf7777's picture

September 12, 2019 at 09:47 pm

Give it time MVS might be that guy....they may also bring Dez into GB in Oct. I wouldn’t be surprised as Gutey seems to be to all avenues to bring success to the team.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 13, 2019 at 04:33 pm

Get the plays in faster to pick up the tempo. And go no huddle more often to catch the defense off guard and just watch how Rodgers can lead the Packers to victory. Go! Pack! Go!

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