It was all a fluke. That’s what the Green Bay Packers believe.
Justin Jefferson scalded the Packers in Week 1 for 9 receptions, 184 yards, and 2 touchdowns en route to a 23-7 Minnesota Vikings triumph. The third-year wideout was magnificent, setting the tone for a season where Minnesota would hold a 12-3 record when the Packers and Vikings met again.
Well, that time is now, and Packers top cornerback Jaire Alexander insists Jefferson’s Week 1 theatrics were a fluke. The Vikings and Packers lock horns at Lambeau Field on Sunday, with Green Bay in desperation mode, needing a win to stay alive in the quest for the NFC’s No. 7 seed. Minnesota has clinched the NFC North and can finish in the No. 3 seed as the worst-case scenario. Otherwise, Minnesota can hold onto its two-seed or perhaps take the top spot if the Philadelphia Eagles falter.
Packers Top CB Shades Justin Jefferson
The beholder of the “fluke” commentary, Alexander, is one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. So, it’s not “some guy” running his mouth without merit. He told reporters this week, “[Jefferson] don’t jump into no supersuit, get dressed and go outside, you hear me? I don’t either sometimes, but he human is what I’m saying. We ain’t putting too much on him, he’s a really good receiver by the end of the day.”
“I’m a really good corner, we’ve got really good corners, we’ve got really good linebackers you know, d-line whatever it is. You don’t want to put too much focus on that one person cause, like, the first game that was a fluke.” Alexander added.
And so ensues the chalkboard material for Jefferson and the Vikings — two entities that didn’t need any such fodder in the first place. Minnesota has toppled Green Bay three consecutive times with Kirk Cousins at QB1, curiously having Aaron Rodgers and Co.’s number as of late.
Alexander’s musings are also a little weird because he rarely covers Jefferson. The same cycle preceding Vikings-Packers always transpires since Jefferson broke out into stardom. The Packers or their fans insist Alexander can contain Jefferson, while Vikings fans doubt it. The game begins. Alexander patrols a certain side of the field, not involving Jefferson. Thielen is typically covered by Alexander. Jefferson tosses up big numbers. Packers-themed voices reflect on the outing with “oh, well, Jefferson wasn’t even covered by Alexander” rebuttals. It’s very odd. Rinse and repeat.
Still, if Alexander actually lines up against Jefferson, the defender should have a reasonable game. He just rarely does so during Vikings-Packers. According to Pro Football Focus, Alexander is the NFL’s 11th-best CB through 16 weeks, and that caliber of defender should limit Jefferson to 70-90 yards. We shall see if the Packers coaching staff finally allows the two men to square off. Green Bay usually declines.
Moreover, Jefferson is pursuing history, too. He needs 209 yards to set the all-time record for receiving yards in a season, an achievement held by Calvin Johnson in 2012. He must keep Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs at bay to win the 2022 receiving yards crown. And Jefferson needs 244 yards to become the first player in history to tabulate 2,000 yards in a season. He’ll have extra motivation — on top of extra motivation because the Packers are a natural rival — to thrive in Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Packers are favored by three points to down the Vikings.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).