Game: Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Time & Location: 1:00 EST; U.S. Bank Stadium; Minneapolis, Minnesota
Previous Meeting: 2016 Week 16, Packers Won 38-25
The Packers come into this week riding high after an exciting finish in week 5 over the reeling Cowboys and sit atop the division at 4-1, while the Vikings held off the Chicago Bears 20-17 on Monday Night Football in the first start of 2nd overall pick Mitch Trubisky’s very young career to leave them at 3-2 and 3rd in the division. In 2 of their 3 wins this season, the Vikings have looked like the team that opened last season 5-0 playing excellent defense and having a surprisingly high-powered offense with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen showing that they’re one of the better WR duos in the NFL. The Packers, meanwhile, have yet to put together a full game this season. In 3 of their 4 wins this season, they have sleepwalked through the first half only to turn it on once they come out after halftime, and use some Aaron Rodgers heroics to carry them to victory.
There are some injuries to watch on both sides of this game, as Sam Bradford has already been ruled out leaving Case Keenum to start in his place, and Stefon Diggs, who torched the Packers for 9 catches, 182 yards, and a score last season in their first matchup, doubtful coming into the game. On the Packers side, Ty Montgomery, who was out last week with broken ribs, plans to play on Sunday. He practiced and plans to play with a flak jacket to reduce the effects of hits. The Packers are better equipped than the Vikings to handle these injuries after the breakout performance from rookie Aaron Jones last week who finished the day with an incredible 19 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown averaging an eye-popping 6.6 ypc. If Montgomery is unable to handle the 95% of snaps that he was playing in weeks 1-3, the Packers can have great confidence slotting Jones in the backfield behind Rodgers.
Rodgers has been his usual self this season, particularly in the second half of games where he has been lights out, often dragging the Packers back from large deficits. The defense has been improved this season, and the play of rookie Josh Jones has played exceptionally well. He has earned more and more playing time each week, filling the role made popular by many players in recent seasons playing as a hybrid safety-linebacker. Mike Zimmer’s defenses have frequently giving Rodgers struggles in the past, often making him perform below his specific level of excellence that we have come to expect from him. However, I think this week will be different. Rodgers should have his full starting offensive line for the first time this season, as well as, he finally has a running game that he can lean on for the first time in his career. Rodgers could be in for the best game of his career when playing a defense coached by Mike Zimmer.
Case Keenum and the Vikings receivers had a field day two weeks ago against the Buccaneers, but has looked pedestrian in the two weeks since. He has frequently looked like an average quarterback that could struggle without his number one receiver or a true number one running back to lean on. Barring unforeseen development from Keenum the Vikings could be in for a long day without their number one receiver and starting quarterback. The Vikings defense is a top 5-10 unit any day of the week, but Keenum could struggle to move the ball, which would result in a worn out defense by the time the fourth quarter starts, which is when Aaron Rodgers has been at his absolute best this season.
Final Score Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24, Minnesota Vikings 14
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