With the pressure of falling behind in the division looming, this week brings the biggest game of the season in Minnesota. The Packers have some work to do but they have shown flashes of their potential over the past two games. They need it for 60 minutes to beat a tough Vikings team.
But this is where it has to hit its zenith. The Packers offense needs to step up even more to improve to 7-3 and retake the division lead. With the potential returns of Eddie Lacy and Ty Montgomery, the balance that Mike McCarthy desires could return as well as creating the deep threat that could set this team back on course to another division title. And with this game a short day away, we look at this week’s 3…2…1…
Quickly, for those new to the series, I will highlight 3 key matchups, make 2 bold predictions, and highlight 1 key stat for the Packers. If they can win the majority of these points, I believe they will win the game. So let’s get started.
3 KEY MATCHUPS
- BJ Raji vs John Sullivan
- Stopping Adrian Peterson is the key of this game, and that starts up front. If the defensive line, which has struggled recently, can hold the point and get into the backfield, they can stop Peterson before he gets going downhill. Raji has shown the potential to disrupt running games, like he did in Seattle and Kansas City against solid centers. Sullivan is the Vikings lineman and will be a challenge.
- Jake Ryan vs Adrian Peterson
- Like the point above, Peterson is the key to the Vikings offense. If he is stopped or slowed down, then the Vikings may look like the Broncos-week Packers offense. And that is where Jake Ryan can come in. He shined against Carolina, especially against the run and with this pure tackling ability. Where he has struggled was in coverage, Nate Palmer’s specialty. I look for extended playing time for Ryan and a solid performance in the middle against Peterson.
- Josh Sitton vs Sharif Floyd
- And on the opposite side, Josh Sitton is having an off year by his standards despite him having a strong season. But he has his hands full with Floyd, a former first round pick who has stepped out big time this season. He can disrupt the line extremely well and is a massively strong defensive lineman. He can collapse the pocket and wreak havoc in the backfield. Sitton will need to be on the top of his game and hold his point well.
2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
- Teddy Bridgewater will turn the ball over at least twice
- While the Packers are struggling offensively, they need to get turnovers to gain momentum, and Teddy Bridgewater has struggled in the past against mistake capitalizing defenses. The Pack, behind the hands of Damarious Randall and the pass rush potential (even though it hasn’t shown up recently), expect to make some plays and take the ball back to give Aaron Rodgers more possessions even in some great field position.
- Aaron Rodgers will complete multiple 40+ yard passes
- This has been a struggle since Week 2 of the preseason when Jordy went down. The downfield passing game isn’t there anymore. James Jones is showing some wear and has been invisible since the bye week and Davante Adams is showing more potential as a middle of the field YAC receiver. Cobb is a slot guy, not a deep threat, but where I think it all change is the return of Montgomery and the idea of Jeff Janis getting even 10 snaps on offense. All it takes is one play for a guy to get deep to open up the field, and no one is better than Aaron Rodgers at finding holes in a secondary deep down the field. If Janis can get one opening down the field and Montgomery can make plays on the sideline, the Packers can get some huge chunks of yardage, which will be a huge blow to the highly regarded Viking defense, much like Carolina did to the Packers early in that game two weeks ago.
1 KEY STAT
- QBR from within the pocket.
- Obscure, yes. Extremely confusing to calculate, for sure. Important, no doubt. Aaron Rodger is deadly no matter where he throws from, but Teddy Bridgewater has been somewhat inconsistent within the pocket as well as outside of it. But he is dangerous with his legs and can make you pay for not containing him. A real key for the Packers defense is to keep him within the tackle box and make him look over his lineman and thread the needle. Don’t let him get any broken pockets that can lead to receivers like Stefon Diggs breaking free down the field.
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.