The Minnesota Vikings head across the border into Wisconsin, intending to end the Green Bay Packers season. In a reversal of recent seasons, the Vikings go into January with the division wrapped up and looking for favorable seeding in the playoffs while the Packers are in the last chance saloon as they attempt to sneak into the final wildcard spot.
3 Vikings Players to Watch at Packers
January football at Lambeau Field is never an easy prospect. A cold, inhospitable welcome is in store for Minnesota. A good start and quieting the crowd will be the game plan. If the Vikings are to return home victorious, here are three Vikings players to watch vs. the Packers.
For the second week in a row, Brian Asamoah makes the list. The linebacker didn’t let me down last week. His role on defense increased, as I expected. He played on 27 defensive snaps, which was 39% of the total. Significantly, he only played on 6 (21%) of special teams snaps — a sign of a shift from special teams player to a man suiting up on Sunday to play some defense.
As a third-round rookie trying to make his mark, he can do no more than the huge forced fumble and fumble recovery he accomplished on Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger. Plays like that will make coaches desperate to get you back on the field. So, I expect plenty of Asamoah on defense again this week.
After a torrid couple of years with injury, the Vikings are finally on the verge of getting a full season of Danielle Hunter. The rewards are being reaped as Hunter goes from strength to strength. The Vikings edge rusher has 3.5 sacks, and 8 QB hits over the last two games. Getting to Aaron Rodgers will be critical to a Minnesota victory.
Hunter’s partner Za’Darius Smith returns to Green Bay for the first time since swapping the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for the comfort of US Bank Stadium. He will be eager to have a big game, and the Packers will be keen to stop him. All this adds up to Hunter taking advantage and having a big day.
Over the next two games, there will be a lot of focus on one thing — Justin Jefferson gunning for Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record. Jefferson needs 209 yards to break the record this weekend in 16 games — the same amount Johnson played. It’s a big ask, but he has gone over that mark already this season. He tallied 223 yards at Detroit in Week 14 and had 184 yards against the Packers in Week 1.
With seeding to play for, the primary focus for the Vikings will be to win the game depending on how the game plays out and if Jefferson naturally gets close to the number he needs. The hunt for the record could provide a fun ending to the game.