The Minnesota Vikings play host to their No. 1 rival in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season, and there’s no doubt the Green Bay Packers will come in looking to assert dominance. How does Kevin O’Connell’s squad answer?
If the Green Bay Packers have Aaron Rodgers under center, they will remain a challenge for the rest of the NFC North. With Minnesota wanting to turn the page on an 8-9 season under Mike Zimmer last year, plenty can be learned against a good test right out of the gate.
While breaking in a new head coach and a few key rookies, there will be plenty of areas to keep an eye on for Green Bay and how Minnesota can respond.
1. Can the Vikings Corners Keep Rodgers in Check?
Patrick Peterson returns to lead the group, but that’s largely where the veteran leadership ends. The Packers no longer have Davante Adams, and Allen Lazard is not nearly in the same realm. Sammy Watkins isn’t the same player he was years ago, and Randall Cobb probably should’ve retired a bit ago.
The quarterback is a very, very good one, but the wide receiver group is not a trio to get burned by. If there’s a good acclimation setting for Cam Dantzler and Andrew Booth Jr. to settle into for 2022, it has to be this. They’ll need to rise to the occasion.
2. What Does the Pass Rush Look like?
Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith have an opportunity to be among the best edge rushers in football this season. The biggest knock against them has been health, but there’s no time they’ll be healthier this season than in Week 1.
Rodgers is somewhat of a mobile quarterback. He’s certainly not the runner that Lamar Jackson is, but he’s definitely not the statue Tom Brady is, either. Can Hunter and Smith get around the Packers offensive line and take down Rodgers?
3. Is the Run Game Controllable?
If there’s a way to mitigate a step backward for the passing game through the loss of Adams, it may be Green Bay leaning more heavily on the run. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are a very talented duo. The Vikings were susceptible up the middle last season, and both guys can be ground-and-pound types.
Jones and Dillon can be used interchangeably in the backfield, and there shouldn’t be the expectation of a certain type of play, no matter who lines up behind the line. Eric Kendricks is a superstar at linebacker, but with the new defensive scheme, Minnesota will need guys flying to tackle strong running backs for the Packers.
4. How Dominant Is the Start?
It could be argued that this game should mean more to the Vikings. They’re coming off a losing record last season and trying to dethrone a good Packers team. As a rivalry game, though, Green Bay shouldn’t be expected to come in and roll over.
How does Matt LaFleur target O’Connell in his first regular season game? Green Bay can certainly take the air out of the building with a couple of early scoring drives. Minnesota has to come out strong and use the homefield advantage to their benefit, but if Green Bay is determined to match the intensity, it could be among the better games of the entire year.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.