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Packers Periscope: Week 2 vs. Minnesota Vikings

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Packers Periscope: Week 2 vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Green Bay Packers head into week two one game already in the win column after a franchise-best fourth quarter comeback win over the Chicago Bears.

Their prize?  A match up against the Minnesota Vikings and one of the league's best defenses.  At least it's at Lambeau Field but even so, the current line on this game is even.  The home team gets three points so the Vikings are essentially favored.

Let's take a look back and forward at this match up.

The Past

The Packers lead the all-time series 60-53-2.  The Vikings have won the last two.  Last season, Minnesota completed the sweep with a week 16 win over the Brett Hundley-led Packers at Lambeau Field.  It was merely a warm up on their way to a division title and playoff appearance.

But it's the first game last year that most remember.  A 4-1 Packers team came into Minnesota confident and ready to notch their first win in the new U.S. Bank Stadium.  Another collarbone injury to Aaron Rodgers later, they were 4-2 and staring at the rest of their season without their ace.

This past offseason, the NFL added a provision to the rules that penalizes a player who puts his entire weight on a defenseless quarterback during a tackle.  There are many ways that "defenseless" is addressed in the rule book but essentially, the play that caused Rodgers' injury last year would be a 15-yard penalty this year.

Vikings fans are furious about the new rule.  They're also still without a Super Bowl title. 

Speaking of the past, the Vikings got into those playoffs and won a thriller against the New Orleans Saints only to be easily dispatched the following week in Philadelphia.  Instead of parlaying their big win into becoming the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium, the Vikings were once again spectators for The Big Game.

So the most recent past in this series ends with. . .a still-empty trophy case at the new Eagan, Minnesota headquarters.

The Present

The Vikings have a new quarterback: Kirk Cousins, who got a mega-deal after playing the last two years under the franchise tag in Washington.  Cousins looked OK in his season debut but hardly lit it up against a San Francisco 49ers team that looked far from great themselves.

Minnesota also saw the return of running back Dalvin Cook and still has the pass-catching trio of Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. Together, they generated enough to get past the 49ers.

But the Vikings defense is still the star of the show.  Three interceptions also played a big role in last week's win, including one pick-six by rookie cornerback Mike Hughes which arguably ended up being the difference in the game.

The Packers struggled offensively against a stout Bears defense until the fourth quarter.  Minnesota's defense, at least on paper, seems to have whatever the Bears were missing and likely won't be surrendering any three-possession leads on Sunday.

Rodgers suffered a knee injury and did return, but will surely be affected by it in this game.  The question isn't whether he can make throws and run the offense, but rather how mobile he'll be.  Upon returning last week, Rodgers wasn't moving around much at all.

That also seemed to help the Packers offense settle into a short passing rhythm that helped set up their first and final long touchdown plays.  The Vikings know the short pass is coming and so the match up between their defense and Green Bay's offense looks to be the headliner.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was asked if he was preparing to face Rodgers this week and responded with "Yeah.  He walks on water so I'm sure he's gonna play".  You sound. . concerned, Mike.  You mad, bro?  But truly, as much as you think you know Rodgers, he's also seen your defense many a time.  Be ready for a chess match.

The Packers defense is still looking for its first interception this season and no better quarterback to help with that than Cousins.  I have no stats or reasons why other than a) it's Kirk Cousins and b) he's in a Vikings uniform.  The Packers were a hair away from a few picks last week.  Will they get on the board this week?

There has been no shortage of banter and commenting on social media between these fan bases.  The Packers have the long history that Vikings fans love to nullify in conversation.  Vikings fans have the latest two wins in the series and their team is still the reigning division champions.  The banner should be on display in that new stadium in case you forget five years from now when the Vikings are broke and bad again.

The Future

All talk aside, the game will be played on the field Sunday at noon, Central time.  The Vegas line sums it up well: this one could go either way.

While we'd like to think that home field is a big advantage for Green Bay in this game, for the first time, it really isn't.  The Vikings have finally come far enough that they're nearly favorites in their least-favorite place to play and for the first time since 2009 when Rodgers starts.

This could also be a game where it ends 14-10 or a shootout with both teams into the high 30's.  Regardless, with these two teams expected to duke it out all season for the North title, this is an early game with high significance.  A Packers win gives them an early edge while a Vikings win sets them up nicely with the remaining contest at home.

If this were Case Keenum leading the charge, I'm not as confident that the Packers defense can stifle the Vikings offense.  But the Vikings let him walk and opted instead for Cousins, who seems like a much better proposition as the opposing quarterback.

The quarterback opposing Minnesota's defense is a different story.  Even when not 100%, he's still capable of bringing this vaunted Vikings defense to their knees because, let's be honest, Rodgers can do that to any defense in the league.  It seems, however, that the Vikings defenders won't be dropping any gimme's this week so Rodgers has to take extra special care of the football.

I won't be surprised either way, but I see this one coming down to the wire much like Sunday night's game did.  Packers in a squeaker to regain bragging rights and build on their early division lead.

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Turophile's picture

Without 12 under center, this is probably a loss.

With him, it will probably depend more on how the supporting cast around AR plays.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"play that caused Rodgers' injury last year would be a 15-yard penalty this year"

15 yards is an easy trade for a win (two wins in the case). Not sure this is gonna change much.

RCPackerFan's picture

I brought this up in another thread but the last time we played against the Vikings our starting CB's were House and Hawkins. Lenzy Pipkins was our 3rd CB.
This year House CB is our #5. Hawkins and Pipkins didn't make the final 53.

Our CB group is so much better this year!

Also.. Ahmad Brooks and Fackrell were our starting OLBs.

Our defense held the Vikings to 16 points.

I know they have a new QB and have Cook back. But I do feel our defense is more prepared to face the Vikings.

And I will take Rodgers on 1 leg over Hundley.
And I do think we will see some new targets getting unleashed a bit!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Our CB group is so much better this year!"

Indeed. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do this weekend. Cousins has a legit receiving crew. If they can hold them to under 20 points it will show the D is on the right track.

RCPackerFan's picture

Definitely! This will be a really good test for the young secondary. Also a good test for Pettine!

dobber's picture

All true, including the 16 points thing, but let's keep in mind that the Packers were fielding a mistake-prone, non-productive offense and a defense that struggled to get off the field for most of the season in 2017. Any team whose nickname didn't start with a B (namely not the Bears, Bucs, or Browns) could beat the Packers without having to scheme much of anything special on offense or give the Packers much of anything unusual to think about on defense. Many of those were damn boring games...go rewatch the Saints game: NO had a dynamic offense, but did they do anything special? Nope. The Lions games were brutal to watch (in part because the Lions were so bad, too).

The bottom line: I wouldn't recommend using anything from the end of the first quarter of the first Vikings game onward in 2017 to try to predict what this team will do this season.

Otto's picture

Excellent point.

PackfanNY's picture

I believe Rodgers will play and the result will be a well played game. Cousins is a good, not great QB. I think he will turn it over in a key spot (Josh Jackson pick?) and Packers win close game 24-20. I am more worried about Dalvin Cook or one of their receivers breaking off a big play than anything else. Should be a good one.

Tundraboy's picture

Concerned about OL,but only worried about how MM handles this game. Just never know what to expect from him anymore.

Qoojo's picture

When I look at this game, Rodgers has always had issues with the Zimmer defenses going back to Bengals. Now add in a shaky OL and limited mobility, then top it with a lot of the playcalls with long developing plays where every WR but one goes 10+ yards, it's hard to be optimistic.

If the packers (Rodgers) go with quick timing plays, instead of always looking for the deep ball, the packers will win, especially early on.

Defensively, I have no idea what to expect, and I want to see if the defense is for real or not.

SJ EC's picture

I think if we can get off to a quick start on offense, and if the defense can get some pressure on Cousins early, things should bode well for us in the long run

We’ll need a healthy dose of the run game, as well as quick, rhythm-based passing to negate the immobility of A-Rod.

Hopefully our pass rush can be a bit more prevalent this week with a weaker Vikings offensive line, which in turn should help our secondary. Containment of Cook will also determine the outcome in the end as well.

All in all, I’m a bit more nervous about this one than I was two weeks ago, but still confident that we can pull out the W!

Samson's picture

No doubt the key to this game is the Packer "D".
With or without AR or if AR plays and is limited, the "D" still needs to somehow limit the Vikings offense.

This game may very well tell how improved this "D" is from this point on. --- If they fall on their faces, more questions will surface.

PatrickGB's picture

Well, it seems that on paper the queens are better than the Packers in almost every facet of the game. With Rodgers being the only exception. And now he is injured. So I guess we lose.

I am SO glad I am not a betting man or fantasy football adherent.

Minniman's picture

What's that old saying - the line decides who wins or loses, the eligible receivers decide by how much.

On the other side of the ball if the Packers D-line can create the pressure and seal the edges then the secondary will do it's thing.

If the D can get off the field, and the o-line creates the fortress Rodgers that they did 3-4 years ago (with 3 of the 5 people on the field now the same as that unit), then Rodgers will shred the Vikings.

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