Why Packers will beat Minnesota and Why They Might Not

There is no question that the biggest game of the season has arrived for the Green Bay Packers, who will look to clinch to the NFC North Monday night in Minnesota.

Green Bay already has a playoff berth wrapped up and the fact is, the Packers can win the North without beating Minnesota. Since the Vikings have lost twice in the division, including once to the Packers, Green Bay would still own the tiebreaker with a win over Detroit next week. So a loss won't be the end of it. 

But winning the division and taking that crown on the Vikings home field would be priceless. 

Making it happen will require maybe the best game of the year for the Packers, who come in as five-pount underdogs against the 10-4 Vikings, who have been on a roll as of late.

Green Bay, on the other hand, defeated Washington and Chicago at home the past two weeks by a single possession. The Packers controlled the games for the most part, but they haven't been dominating.

Yet, in the NFL, margin of victory isn't a stat that matters. The Packers are 11-3 and if they win out, they will be NFC North Champs with a guaranteed first-round bye. That, more than anything is what's on the line tonight.

So, without further ado, here's why the Packers will beat the Vikes and why they might not.

Why the Packers will win

After the way the Packers played at San Francisco a few weeks ago, it's hard to feel confident in this team on the road. However, there was the win over Kansas City, even without Patrick Mahomes, as well as the season-opening road win at Chicago. Still, the Vikings and their defense will provide a stingy test.

The offensive line is healthy and that should help neutralize the Vikings pass rush. Getting Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams going would also help, but that will prove tough against Minnesota's eight-ranked run defense.

Minnesota will be without Dalvin Cook and that's a plus for the Packers, who are facing a top-five rushing attack. Green Bay doesn't need to dominate on the ground to win, yet it needs to be competitive.

Slowing the run game on defense will apply more pressure on Cousins, while running effectively on offense can relieve some on Rodgers.

As long as Rodgers can get protection, the Packers will find ways to score points. Jones and Davante Adams are both pro-bowl level players and even though the younger wideouts haven't been super consistent, someone seems to step up each week.

Beyond that, the defense gives Green Bay the best chance. The Packers pass rush is capable of getting to Cousins, as it did in the first matchup but either way, limiting big plays will be the key.

Why Green Bay might lose

To me this game comes down to the quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins has a terrible record in these Monday night games and against really good teams. Like it or not, at 11-3, the Packers quality as one of those teams.

But Green Bay hasn't been great down the stretch especially against strong quarterbacks. 

The key matchup, beyond getting pressure on the quarterback, will be Jaire Alexander and Kevin King against Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. If the Packers get the best of that matchup or even if it's just neutral, Green Bay will have a really good chance of winning the game.

The Packers did a good job of limiting the big chunk plays in the first meeting and that needs to happen again this time around. Diggs and Thielen have tormented Green Bay over the years and if it happens again, it's hard to see the Packers leaving Minnesota victorious. 

 

 

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Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Comments (37)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:10 am

Now that the Vikings top 2 rushers are out the only big question to me is whether Rodgers hits the open man on time or if he holds the ball and refuses to play the offense.

There are some other minor ones like...

Does Jones get involved in the passing game?
Does Pettine chicken out into soft zones and three man rushes.

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PeteK's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:55 am

I watched many very good QBs ( Brees, Wilson, Garapollo, Mahomes, and yes Tannenhill) the last few days and they all held on to the ball too long at times to try to make a play . Also, keep in mind they had better receivers than we do. The TE talent was really on display in those games.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:18 pm

At times is ok, as much of the time as Rodgers does isn't.

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Cubbygold's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:24 am

Why they'll win... hope/optimism

It's a rivalry game and Rodgers really doesn't want to be 0-4 at US Bank Stadium

Why they might not win... results/history

Total Offense Scoring: GB (13th), MN (6th)
Offense DVOA: GB (9th), MN (7th)

Total Defense Scoring: GB (10th), MN (5th)
Defense DVOA: GB (17th), MN (6th)

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PeteK's picture

December 23, 2019 at 04:53 pm

Only one stat tells the true story for THIS season , turn over differential. Put DVOA in your pipe and smoke it. ( We both hope that I don't have to eat these words late tonight) LOL

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Cubbygold's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Unfortunately the Vikings are riding a similar story +11

Pretty impressive how important that stat is though. The top 9 teams in turnover differential are all in the playoffs currently.

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Houndog's picture

December 23, 2019 at 11:29 am

Unless we see some of that "Illusion", productive offense we heard so much about last summer this could be a good old fashioned A$$ whooping.
Rodgers will need to step up to the plate, snap the ball before the clock hits zero (and everyone knows its coming) and hit the open receivers. Enough of going for the home-run on 3rd and 2 from the 50 yard line, get the 1st down!
The D will need a major performance, with something special from all of our 'High Round' DBs or it could be a really long night and a short 'game'.

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 23, 2019 at 02:35 pm

From Jason Wilde via Twitter:

Brian Urlacher on Rodgers running the play-clock down:

(1 of 6): "He always had the upper hand because he knows the damn play clock. So he knows the situation, if we had enough time on the clock where we could get a check in …

Yes, Rodgers ALWAYS knows exactly what's up.

(2 of 6) "... because we know when we’re in Cover-2 he’s probably going to check to a run, so we could check to Cover-1 if we had time. or if we were in Cover-1, he'd check to a pass and we could try to check to Cover-2 or a blitz somehow. Because he always knew our defense ...

(3 of 6) "... You know, he’s such a smart guy, he always undressed our defense with the leg-kick thing and the fake count and we’d show our hand and he’d know what defense we were in. I mean, they ALWAYS ended up in the right call. ...

Urlacher explains how Rodgers lets the play clock run down to nearly zero so he can evaluate what the defense is showing him and make sure he is running the most effective play to take on the alignment.

(4 of 6) "... So I would say he got the upper hand in most of those situations."

Q: So running the clock down is smart?

Urlacher: "Yeah, why wouldn’t you? You’ve got to use that play-clock to your advantage. That’s why he does it. So he can know exactly what defense you’re in ...

(5 of 6) "... and as a defensive player it puts you in a bind, because there’s a certain point in the play clock where you have to show him what you’re doing. Or the ball’s going to be snapped and you’re not going to be lined up correctly. ...

Urlacher's comments help explain the game and the strategy behind everything a bit further to the casual football fan. It is easy to think players are making mistakes when it is all part of the plan.

(6 of 6) "... So we have to get to our spots and as soon as you do, he knows exactly what you’re doing. So he knows what defense you’re in."

Full interview on #WiOnDemand: https://wisconsinondemand.com/podcasts/interviews/2019/dec/12/121219-bri...

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 23, 2019 at 06:03 pm

Dankeschoen. That morsel of logic is like a canoe paddle across the melon to some of these fantasy frauds.
Best to score fast and furious to put the lutefisk crowd to sleep. Not much energy in downtown Minneapolis , today.
Go out and Win it!

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edp1959's picture

December 23, 2019 at 06:47 pm

Thank you for posting this article. This is coming from a HOF linebacker. Can we shut up the play clock whinning?

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm

This game comes down to Rodgers playing like he's really bought into the offense of MLF or continue playing like he hasn't with the latter being far more applicable.
or
Rodgers has been showing us that the much anticipated MLF offense is just a figment of the optimists often unseen and unvalidated imagination.

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PeteK's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:21 pm

I love the roll and sprint outs that Tennessee used against the Saints, it could work tonight. Bring on the fast track the Smiths and Jones( screens) love the smell of plastic. !

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Since'61's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Control the LOS on both sides of the ball.
Receive, don't defer the opening KO if we win the toss. Get a score, equalize the game by taking the crowd out early and play with a lead.
Jones and Adams are our best weapons so let's get the ball in their hands often. The problem with our offense has been that besides Jones and Adams we don't have the weapons to run this offense the way it is meant to be run. Lazard can be a factor as well.
OL must play solidly and make the run game go.

Defense keep the Vikings offense one dimensional, get pressure on Cousins and create turnovers.

Maybe STs contribute in the field position game with good punts by JK and some goods returns by Ervin. We'll see.
A win tonight means the division title plus a decent shot at the #1 seed due to Seattle's loss to Arizona!!??!!!?

Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 23, 2019 at 01:28 pm

" Receive, don't defer the opening KO if we win the toss. Get a score, equalize the game by taking the crowd out early and play with a lead."

It doesn't matter if the we can't perform after the scripted plays. The crowd will be silenced for a very short time.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 23, 2019 at 06:32 pm

I think that since these games are won or lost in the second half, and not the first quarter, that it’s an advantage to receive the second half kickoff.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 23, 2019 at 06:28 pm

I think our best chance to win this game is play conservative until the 4th quarter. Lots of handoffs, some punts, no turnovers..

Every game that we have led at the half, we have won.

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Pierre's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:40 pm

I believe the most important aspect for the Packers offense to practice and utilize against the better playoff great pass rushing defenses is to use the screen pass. Let ‘em charge in and set up screens to Jones and Williams with 2-3 blockers. Get the backs into the open field more for chucks of yardage.
This is how the Rams neutralized the 49ers pass rush (and the 49ers did to the Rams also). The Packers could not do anything against the 49ers pass rush defense and Rodgers offense was totally inept. They need to use the screen pass a lot more to offset these pass rushers, starting with the Vikings tonight. Make Jones a larger part of the offensive attack to keep the pressure on the MN defense and open up the passing game.

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Archie's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Sounds good to me. Utilize TEs more too, for both blocking and catching.

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 23, 2019 at 01:30 pm

We don't really have TE's as to what TE's are suppose to be/do.

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PeteK's picture

December 23, 2019 at 05:14 pm

A vailed Rogers compliment. I knew you had it in you!!!

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Leatherhead's picture

December 23, 2019 at 06:44 pm

And what exactly are they supposed to do?

On run plays, they need to get their guy blocked. In this offense, it looks like we’re throwing about 8 passes/ game to the TE. You’d like to see 75% caught, so about 6 receptions/game for about 75 yards. Throwing more to the TE means less targets of another position. Who should get less targets? Adams? Jones/Williams? The #2 WR?

You don’t need a fantasy lineup at the skill positions.....you need a couple of good players and some complimentary guys. We have that.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 23, 2019 at 06:08 pm

Kendricks and Smith make that hard to work vs the vi-queens. They move to the ball quickly. Mis-direction and counters are the best way to deal with the queens

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mnbadger's picture

December 23, 2019 at 12:53 pm

We win (or lose) for these reasons: turnovers, rushing offense and defense, penalties and special teams.
Pack 23-21.

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Adorabelle's picture

December 23, 2019 at 01:26 pm

The packers do what the packers have done all season. On offense they will Kill drives with a bad play but score whenever they are in the red zone and on defense they will give up yards but make a stop in the red zone. It all adds up yo a close game at the end.

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pacman's picture

December 23, 2019 at 01:26 pm

Close game - Packers 24 - Viking 23.9
(I never bet against the Packers)

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egbertsouse's picture

December 23, 2019 at 02:17 pm

Vikings 27, Packers 13. And I have to not leave home so as not to have to hear them crow and skol all over the place until their usual playoff choke job shuts everyone up over here.

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Cubbygold's picture

December 23, 2019 at 04:22 pm

This is disturbingly accurate

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Qoojo's picture

December 23, 2019 at 02:32 pm

1. Don't turn the ball over
2. Protect Rodgers

In every loss this season, they failed at one or both of those things.

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Lphill's picture

December 23, 2019 at 04:00 pm

Most of us here feel that the key to winning is Aaron Jones , why don’t the Packers feel the same way.

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PeteK's picture

December 23, 2019 at 05:25 pm

Yes, he's always wide open or could run free ,but we decide to give someone else a chance so that there's no jealousy.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 24, 2019 at 08:31 am

Because the paid professionals are smarter and know more?

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Gman1976's picture

December 23, 2019 at 04:44 pm

One reason why we should win tonight: It's reported that the Vikings have NOT beaten a winning team all season.

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canadapacker's picture

December 23, 2019 at 05:17 pm

Not the biggest game of the season. I believe that game 1 up until now the one in Chicago was the biggest game of the season. Next week will be the biggest game of the season no matter what. If we lose tonights game next week will be for the division title and possibly for the number 1 seed. So anyway you cut it next week will be the biggest game of the season. If we beat the Vikings and need to meet them again one has to realize that it is almost impossible to beat a team 3 times in the same season. So a loss is not as problematic as a win. Secondly the Vikings dont want to face either the Saints , Chawks or the 49ers in the first round so they may be really motivated. So it is not the biggest game. I really would like to AR play an old time AR game. Play the whole game the way he played the first part of last time we met. Dont give up any 3 and outs and subject our D to lengthy field time. We have to very nice indoor games to get us tuned up for the playoff run.

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dobber's picture

December 23, 2019 at 05:23 pm

The Vikings will come out and try to bully the Packers off the field in the first half. The Packers will have to match their intensity early, and play a full game of football. This is a tough one tonight. I hope I'll be staying up late and not going to bed at halftime or the end of the third quarter.

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PeteK's picture

December 23, 2019 at 05:35 pm

How did that work out for them in week two?

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BehindEnemyLines's picture

December 23, 2019 at 05:37 pm

Please, somebody... ANYBODY... edit these pieces before publishing.

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Lphill's picture

December 23, 2019 at 08:06 pm

Rodgers looks way out of rhythm after throwing a pick to start the 2 Nd qtr, he really needs to get his head out of his ass .

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