It’s week 16. Packers vs Vikings, with playoff implications. This is arguably the biggest game of the season for both teams. Both teams are looking good heading into the playoffs, but there is still plenty at stake.
This is also a prime time match-up on Monday Night Football. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has not won on Monday Night Football. The Packers have not won at U.S. Bank Stadium since it opened. One of those streaks will be broken this week.
Here are three storylines to watch for this week:
Vikings looking to remain unbeaten at home
The Packers are a very strong team at home, as they finished the regular 7-1 at Lambeau. The Vikings are no different. With two home games remaining, they are the only team in the NFL to have a perfect home record, 6-0, in 2019. The Vikings defense is even better at home than they are on the road. They allow a touchdown less at U.S. Bank Stadium than they do away from Minnesota. For the Packers to have a chance at the number one seed in the NFC playoffs, they are going to have to win for the first time in four tries at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Aaron Jones vs the Vikings Run Defense
Aaron Jones has turned into a star, and play-maker that this Packers team has need to complement Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Jones is currently tied with Christian McCaffrey with 14 rushing touchdowns this season. When the Packers get the ball in Jones’s hands, typically good things happen and the chains keep moving. Make no mistake about it, this is still Aaron Rodgers team, but for this time to win on Monday Night, Jones is going to have to come up big. Just like with the Bears, the Vikings defense is stellar. They are giving up 14 points per game at game. So, points will be hard to come by. It will be crucial for the Packers to control the time of possession and they can do that by effectively running the ball with Jones.
Packers Passing Attack
The Packers opened up the game last week against the Chicago Bears with a deep bomb to MVS, unfortunately they didn’t connect. They are going to have to connect on those big plays. To help get the passing attack going, the Packers are going to unleash Jake Kumerow. You read that right, it’s Kumerow time! Even though he only has 18 targets this season, Kumerow leads the Packers in yards per target and yards per catch. He come up with a big play last week against the Chicago Bears. That prompt head coach Matt Lafleur to say that Kumerow will be involved more in the offense and given more opportunities. The kid has definitely earned it. For the Packers to not only win on Monday Night, but to also make a deep playoff run, they are going to need more production from receivers not named Davante Adams. Kumerow could be that guy that steps up to take some of the load off Adams and Aaron Jones.
The Packers vs Vikings has turned into a big rivalry over the years, from close match-ups to former Packer players going across the border, these games between these two teams is always intense. The Packers will face as close to a playoff type game as they can get before an actual playoff game. If the Vikings were to win, it is possibly that these two teams could meet for a third time in the playoffs at Lambeau Field. This will be a very close and intense game, but I think the Packers defense is the difference maker and will lead the team to victory on Monday night. Go Pack Go!
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag