Early Bird Breakdown Week 2 – Packers @ Vikings
Hello and welcome back to week two of the regular season for the Packers and week two of the breakdown. Before we dive into the matchups, let’s look at last week’s recap.
Last week Green Bay played down in Jacksonville to kick off the season and they were able to squeak out a win 27-23. While Aaron Rodgers failed to throw for over 200 yards he was able to make the clutch plays and keep his day turnover free, which was the difference as Blake Bortles was able to throw for 320 yards but a costly interception lead to early points & the Packers defense did just enough to win the game.
Packers’ Offense vs Vikings’ Defense:
Last week, the Packers were only able to manage 199 yards through the air and 95 on the ground. Jacksonville may have improved their defensive talent, but not that much and that was the 24th ranked defense from a year ago. This week they face a Vikings team built on their defense and it will be much harder, especially as the Vikings will be opening a new stadium on Sunday Night Football and emotions will be running high. Minnesota’s defense is pretty balanced, but they are a tad softer vs the run than the pass. Eddie Lacy will have to get it going even more so than last week, likely needing to top 20 carries to create the balance in the offense needed to beat their divisional foe.
The other large key for Green Bay offensively will be how well in-sync Rodgers is with his receivers. Last week, there were a few off throws between the timing of Rodgers & Nelson, as well as a key drop by Davante Adams early on. Rodgers will need to have the timing down because his windows will be smaller versus Minnesota than he had against Jacksonville.
Packers’ Defense vs Vikings’ Offense:
The Packers defense has to answer the question of how to stop Adrian Peterson. Peterson has owned this rivalry and consistently has good games versus the Packers, but the Packers may have gotten some good film on how to contain Peterson from last week’s game versus the Titans. Tennessee bottled up Peterson last week & watching the film may give defensive lineman Mike Daniels the clues he needs to pick up on when Minnesota has called for strong side, weak side, or counter run plays. If the defense is prepared prior to the snap, this may be the best game Green Bay has had against Peterson yet. The caveat is that the Titans were able to slow down and beat Peterson because of lack of quarterback talent that Minnesota has had to deal with since Bridgewater went down in practice. Now, Minnesota will be debuting their new starter Sam Bradford, who the Vikings sent a first round and a conditional fourth round for.
Bradford is a clear upgrade over Shaun Hill who looked abysmal last week versus the Titans. However, he is not mobile enough to truly punish the Green Bay defense with his legs, which has been an Achilles’ Heel in recent years for the Packers. Matthews & company should be able to collapse in on him from within the Pocket. While starting corner Sam Shields is out due to his concussion suffered last week, I think Green Bay’s corners still are a mismatch for Minnesota’s wide receivers and should be able to hold their own.
The Vikings new stadium is indoors so weather will not be a factor.
The Packers head into Sunday Night Football facing off against their division rival & reigning division champion Minnesota Vikings. Emotions will be running high for Minnesota, who not only is breaking in a new stadium but also a new starting quarterback. Both teams I think will struggle overall moving the ball through the air. Minnesota’s defense is hard to throw on for anyone and they have particularly been good against Aaron Rodgers recently. Not only that, but dating back to last year most of the Packers’ receivers have struggled to create separation from coverage. Add to that Jordy Nelson is still working to get back on the same page every down with Rodgers, it makes it no guarantee for success against a good opponent. On the flip side, Minnesota will be breaking in a new quarterback and while Minnesota has speed on the outside they lack consistency especially with route running and the timing will be very off from Bradford to the receivers. This game will come down to which running back does better and which quarterback makes fewer mistakes. Eddie Lacy & Adrian Peterson both tend to have strong games in these matchups, and I trust Rodgers more than Bradford to not turn the ball over. In a coin-flip game, I like the experience of Rodgers over the emotions the Vikings will have fueling them. Packers win 24-20.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University