When the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings get together it is always an intense game just given the rivalry. But Monday Night’s meeting between these two teams also comes with a lot on the line for each of them.
The Green Bay Packers are 11-3 and can clinch the NFC North with a win. Not to mention that they need a win to keep possession of the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed. Meanwhile the 10-4 Vikings still haven’t clinched a playoff spot and need a win to keep their hopes of a division title alive.
Per reports it looks like the Vikings will be without star running back Dalvin Cook which should make things a little easier on the Packers. However, this is still a very good Vikings team with an excellent home field advantage. And if Green Bay is going to come away with the win, a big reason will be due to how they perform in these three positional battles.
Diggs and Thielen v. Packers Secondary
Per usual, both receivers are putting together very nice seasons with Thielen just returning last week from a hamstring injury. In nine games he has hauled in over 68 percent of his passes at nearly 14 yards per catch with six touchdowns. Then there is Diggs who has also been very efficient with a 67 percent completion percentage and a whopping 17.9 yards per catch in 2019. Not to mention that back in week 2 we saw first hand how explosive these two can be as they combined for six catches and 124 yards.
A big key to this game will be the Green Bay secondary limiting Thielen and Diggs’ production. It is unlikely that they will be able to take either of tthem completely out of the game, but limiting the big plays – which has been an issue for the Packers – is a must given the inconsistency of the Green Bay offense. A high scoring game is something they’ll want to avoid.
As they’ve done for much of the season, the Green Bay Packers’ front-seven can provide some help by putting pressure on Kirk Cousins and forcing him to get rid of the ball sooner than he’d like. This should also lead to a poor throw or two that will hopefully turn into an interception.
Everson Griffen & Danielle Hunter v. David Bakhtiari & Bryan Bulaga
As is the case in every Packers’ game, keeping quarterback Aaron Rodgers off the ground and giving him time to throw will be essential. This season the dynamic duo of David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga have had to go up against some of the NFL’s best edge-rushers this season and once again they’ll need their “A” games as they face Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen for a second time.
To put it simply, Griffen and Hunter have been fantastic this season. Combined they’ve totaled 21.5 sacks and 147 total pressures through 15 games. For some context, The Smiths – who has we’ve all seen have been fantastic as well – have also combined for 21.5 sacks, along with 129 total pressures. And the last time these two teams got together, Griffen and Hunter would wreak some havoc, sacking Aaron Rodgers once and pressuring him 16 times.
On the flip side, Bulaga and Bakhtiari have been very good this year as well, especially over their last three games. However as you can see, they will have their hands full on Monday. But if they are able to keep Rodgers clean in the pocket and provide him with some time, he and Davante Adams should be able to pick apart this Vikings’ secondary as they’ve done so often in recent meetings.
Xavier Rhodes v. Davante Adams
What a transition that was, our third matchup just so happens to be Davante Adams and Xavier Rhodes. Aaron Jones and the Packers running game didn’t have much success against Chicago, and the results could be similar this week as they are going up against a Vikings run defense that allows just 99 rushing yards per game – the eighth fewest in the NFL.
That means Green Bay will likely need a big performance from Adams, their other playmaker, if they hope to come away with a win.
Fortunately for the Packers, Admas has to be licking his chops every time he sees Rhodes lined up across from him. Over their last three meetings, Adams has caught 17 of 21 passes for 173 yards with two touchdowns when Rhodes is defending him.
With a Minnesota offense that has shown that they can put up points this season, the Packers will need the passing game to be much more consistent than what it has been. And that all starts with Adams winning his matchup against Rhodes.