Packers vs Vikings : Following the improbable win by the Minnesota Gophers at Camp Randall in Madison yesterday, the Vikings will look to complete the Wisconsin sweep on Sunday night. The Vikings host the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium in a Minneapolis border battle that could make or break each team’s season.
Green Bay (4-5-1) has looked like a different team this season. They have still not won on the road in 2018. Offensively, the Packers have struggled on third downs without Jordy Nelson. The defense, which looked strong to start the season, has faded as of late. With their backs against the wall in the NFC playoff picture, the Packers are already fighting to stay in the hunt. The question leading into tonight’s rivalry game is how will they respond under pressure?
The Packers are dealing with quite a few injuries. Starting linebacker Nick Perry was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week and starting defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot) was ruled out on Friday. Also, tight end Jimmy Graham will play tonight despite a broken thumb. He’ll have a protective cast on his hand which should make catching the ball… let’s say interesting. Along with Graham, there’s six more Packers who are also listed as questionable.
Still, the Packers are a dangerous team. Green Bay has two offensive weapons named Aaron that are capable of carrying the team to a win on any given Sunday. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a ridiculous 19:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and running back Aaron Jones leads the NFL in yards per carry (6.4).
On the other sideline, the Vikings (5-4-1) have ruled out four players with injuries. David Morgan (knee), Andrew Sendejo (groin), Ben Gedeon (concussion) and Chad Beebe (hamstring) will miss the primetime matchup. Linebacker Anthony Barr, who practiced in full this week, is expected to play tonight after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury.
The Vikings offense has sputtered lately. On top of rushing for only 22 yards as a team last week, Kirk Cousins in the last three games has thrown four interceptions. But tonight, the unit faces a Packers defense that is reeling. They’ve lost some playmakers due to injury and Green Bay has allowed over 100 yards on the ground in five consecutive games. Beyond that, the secondary is (still) not very good.
Even though they’re ranked 5th against the pass, Green Bay has given up 1,715 yards and 14 TD’s to opposing wide receivers this season. In the first matchup between the two teams, Cousins threw for 425 yards with four touchdowns. The Vikings should look for a strong mix of sugar with spice tonight. And by that I mean spread the ball around to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. There’s also plenty of desire to get the ball to Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray against a somewhat porous run defense.
On defense, the Vikings took a big step back last week against the Bears. After setting a franchise-record 10 sacks against the Lions, the Vikings let a mobile Mitchell Trubisky get the best of them. Having Barr back will certainly help defend another mobile quarterback in Rodgers (who had limited mobility the first time the two teams faced one another), but the front seven will need to be at the top of their game in order to contain the Packers quarterback.
With all that’s riding on tonight’s game, expect both teams to come out firing with tons of energy. Should be a good one ladies and gentlemen! Here’s how the teams stack up by the numbers: