The 12-3 Vikings will face the 7-8 Packers in their Week 17 matchup at Lambeau Field on Sunday. The game will feature some fun matchups.
David Bakhtiari practiced on Thursday and is on pace to suit up for the division battle. He will go up against edge rusher Za’Darius Smith on most plays. Smith will be entirely motivated facing his old team and could even increase his salary by recording a couple of more sacks.
Bakhtiari had a down year because he is coming off a torn ACL, but he is an elite left tackle in the league. The same can be said about Smith, who was just voted to the Pro Bowl. The Viking is among the league leaders in sacks, quarterback pressures, and hurries. He turned out to be an excellent signing for the purple team.
Another anticipated matchup is superstar receiver Justin Jefferson against cornerback Jaire Alexander. Barring unforeseen circumstances, both will meet at the Pro Bowl, as they were both voted to attend the event.
Packers Defender Is Playing With Fire
In their Week 1 matchup, Alexander, for some reason, was not covering Jefferson much. The Packers mainly played zone coverage and had others cover Jefferson for the most part. No matter what the plan was, it didn’t work. The Viking recorded 184 yards and scored twice. He was just toying with the Packers secondary, and Alexander wasn’t pleased with his assignment.
Kevin O’Connell also played some games with the Packers when he lined up Jefferson against pass rusher Preston Smith or rookie linebacker Quay Walker.
Just before going up against each other, the Packers cornerback talked about his opponent. While he praised him as a top-3 receiver, he also added some trash talk.
Of course, 184 yards are not a fluke for the dynamic receiver. He recorded more than that twice in 2022 alone, and even games with 150 yards look like average games for Jefferson. He is an incredible receiver and positioned himself clearly at the top of the league. Most consider him the best wideout in the game.
With two games to go, Jefferson is leading the league in receiving yards by 124. He needs to record 209 more yards in the two games to break Calvin Johnson’s all-time single-season record and 244 yards to be the first ever to have 2,000 receiving yards in a season.
After the Packers got severely burnt by Jefferson in their first matchup of the season, it’s most likely that they will have Alexander following him this time.
Alexander can play in the slot and outside, so he could be the man in coverage all day. The former Louisville Cardinal is the 11th-best cornerback in the league in 2022 per PFF, and he was the top cornerback in 2020. Alexander missed most of the 2021 campaign with a shoulder injury.
The other cornerback of the Packers is Rasul Douglas. He was a reclamation project just a year ago and was on the Cardinals’ practice squad. Green Bay picked him up, and he became a starter and was one of the top cornerbacks last season. He then signed a significant extension in the offseason and is now starting for the Packers. Eric Stokes, the second-year player, is hurt and won’t play against the Vikings.
If the Packers can’t prevent Jefferson from having another huge day, it will be extremely hard to beat the Vikings. Trash talk will not help slow him down. It might even increase his motivation.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt