The first Packers-Vikings match-up back in Week 11 ended in heartbreaking defeat for Green Bay. After falling behind by 13 points, the Packers made a valiant effort to come back and tie the game at 31, and a dropped Darnell Savage interception was the difference between a shot at another signature Aaron Rodgers comeback and a walk-off win for Minnesota. But for 3 big reasons, the Packers have a very good shot at flipping the script on the Vikings and possibly locking up the number one seed in the NFC.
Kirk Cousins Comes Back to Earth
Cousins’ streaky play has defined his career, but there is no question he made some incredible plays against the Packers. Green Bay was able to generate pressure against Cousins despite Rashan Gary not playing, but Cousins was able to stand tall and create big plays – including the go-ahead touchdown late in the 4th quarter.
Apart from this – Cousins was also very fortunate to come away from this game without a turnover. He had an interception called back due to a roughing the passer penalty that led to a touchdown just 3 plays later. He also had a strip sack that the Vikings were able to recover, and another dropped interception that led to the game winning field goal. If just one of these plays were flipped, the Packers likely head back to Green Bay victorious. Cousins has also had his struggles of late – with a passer rating under 70 in 2 of his last 3 games, with just 5 TD to 4 INT in those 3.
Packers Find Answer for Justin Jefferson
Jefferson was the main beneficiary of Cousins’ big game in Week 11, to the tune of 8 catches for 169 yards and 2 TD. They found ways to get Jefferson in plus match-ups, including using him out of the backfield to match him against Henry Black. One can only hope that Packers DC Joe Barry will have a better answer against Jefferson, especially considering Adam Thielen will miss the game after undergoing ankle surgery this week.
The Packers will likely still be without Jaire Alexander, despite activating him from Injured Reserve. Wednesday represented the last day the Packers were able to activate Alexander before losing him for the season, and Matt LaFleur mentioned that he will gradually return to game action. Nonetheless, the Packers will likely have options for Jefferson that include less Kevin King and Henry Black.
Rodgers Continues MVP Campaign
Nobody has been hotter than Rodgers since his return from Covid in November. He has thrown for 16 TD and just one INT over that period, cementing himself as the MVP favorite once again. He will also get a major weapon back, with the Packers activating Marquez Valdes-Scatling from the Covid reserve list on Wednesday, who has shown he adds another element to the Packers passing offense. The Vikings however, continue to find themselves scraping for defensive backs. After releasing former starting CB Beshaud Breeland earlier this month, they now face the possibility of being without Harrison Smith, who was a non-participant at practice Wednesday.——————
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.