Looking to round out their schedule with divisional foes over the final two weeks of the regular season, the Minnesota Vikings travel to Green Bay. The Packers represent the only team in which Kevin O’Connell’s squad has won convincingly, yet they enter this matchup as underdogs.
Opening the regular season against their chief rival, Minnesota looked to set the tone against Green Bay. Things could’ve gone very differently had rookie Christian Watson not dropped a walk-in touchdown early in the game, but from then on, all of the momentum was tilted toward the Vikings.
What Vikings Can Learn from Week 1 vs. Cheese Foe
There’s no denying that Aaron Rodgers would need time to settle in with a receiving corps that left plenty to be desired. While Watson was a 2022 NFL Draft selection, the Packers had opted to part with Davante Adams and left Allen Lazard as the only reliable veteran. Randall Cobb was still in the fold but has undoubtedly aged, and although Sammy Watkins was brought in, his best days were clearly behind him, and he has since been released.
Rather than load up for a future Hall of Fame quarterback on offense, Green Bay opted to invest significant salary and draft capital on the defense. Although not to the level of futility we see every week from the Vikings, Green Bay’s defense ranks just 17th in yards per game. They are especially terrible against the run, and their points per game allowed are nearly the bottom third as well.
In Week 1, the Vikings masked defensive secondary issues by bringing down Rodgers. He was sacked four times on the day, and the Packers quarterback threw for just 195 yards before being replaced late by Jordan Love. Za’Darius Smith would love another opportunity to make a mark against his former team, and he paired well with Danielle Hunter to do that last time out.
Minnesota’s success came largely through the air as Kirk Cousins showed a strong connection with Justin Jefferson. Despite a strong top cornerback in Jaire Alexander, Jefferson roasted the Green Bay defense for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Dalvin Cook nearly had 100 yards on the day, but he was primarily held in check.
Given the weather implications in this contest, the Vikings may be forced to change their gameplan. Jefferson is certainly looking to continue his magical season, but he’ll need to fare well in the elements for the first time if that’s going to happen. Cook has looked a bit less than the best of himself this year, and while he’s had opportunities against worse run defenses, this is another spot where he should be heavily featured.
Beating teams twice, especially within the division, is difficult during any given season. O’Connell is facing his second opportunity to come out with a win in that scenario, and he’ll look to put a better foot forward this time around. The Detroit Lions welcomed Minnesota on a hot streak and got the best of them. Green Bay is in a similar spot and is now playing for their playoff lives. I’d imagine the Vikings would prefer avoiding a potential third matchup coming in the playoffs, and a victory Sunday would end any chance of that happening.
The Vikings took momentum and ran with it immediately in Week 1. While they’ll look to do the same this time, a complete gameplan will likely be necessary for a positive result.
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.