191 yards. 23 touches. 1 touchdown.
Those are the numbers that Dalvin Cook torched the Green Bay Packers defense for in Week 2, including a 75-yard rushing score in the third quarter that helped this team finally get on the board.
While Cook has been ruled out for the Week 16 matchup when the two teams fight it out on Monday night, the rushing defense will still be a focal point for Mike Pettine as he leads the Packer defense into the unfriendly confines of Minnesota.
After Cook is Alexander Mattison, who has been dealing with his own ankle injury and has been listed as questionable going into Monday night. With the Vikings having clinched a playoff berth with the Los Angeles Rams having lost on Saturday to the 49ers, they have no reason to trot out a 50% healthy player just because he is next up on the depth chart.
While a victory by the Packers will earn them the NFC North divisional title and the Vikings should not want to lose that race, their health matters more at this point, especially because they are going to the postseason either way.
So even with Mattison on track to be active, Adam Schefter reported that in all likelihood, third-string back Mike Boone will most likely be the bell cow, after he scored two TDs last week in relief of Cook in their blowout victory over the Chargers.
While Boone is mostly a rushing threat and very limited through the air, pass-catching back Ameer Abdullah comes in on passing downs and will take the reception load on for Kirk Cousins and the offense.
Boone is more of a downhill back, built like a beefier running back meant to stay between the tackles. He has shown a bit of poise in his limited touches so far for the team, and he will be counted on to take the vast majority of the rushing touches.
It is not out of the expected outcome of the game to see Boone earn 15+ touches running the ball, as the Vikings love to control the clock, slow it down, and run the ball down their opponent’s throats, as the Packers found out right away in Week 2.
While expecting 190+ yards from a third-string quarterback is a bit of an optimistic approach to the game call, the Packers need to stick their assets into shutting down the run game and making Cousins beat them through the air. While Cousins has had a good amount of success playing at home this year, his penchant for failing to show up in primetime affairs should look a bit more appetizing to the Packers then letting them stick to their gameplan and run it as often as they normally do.
The key to shutting down the rushing attack will be for Kenny Clark and his defensive linemen friends to continue their strong play into this week and wreak havoc in the Vikings’ backfield. They do not have that good of an offensive line unit, so the front of Clark, Kyler Fackrell, Rashan Gary, and the Smith Brothers need to eat and eat often.
Blake Martinez will also be key in helping shut down the rushing attack, as his play calls on the fly and his penchant for sticking his nose into every play will be hugely important to making sure that the Vikings do not earn anything productive on the ground all night.
A divisional matchup, pitting the two best NFC North teams against each other on primetime football, with playoff seeding on the line – what else could you want?뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23