The Green Bay Packers (12-3) host the Minnesota Vikings (7-8) tomorrow night at Lambeau Field. The Packers are winners of four straight games while the Vikings are coming off a loss to the Rams. These two teams met in Minnesota back on November 21st, where the Vikings edged the Packers in a 34-31 shootout. However, Sunday’s game will look quite different, as the Vikings will be without two of their best players.
Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins is out as he tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday. The loss of Cousins is substantial. In his last start against Green Bay, he tossed 3 touchdowns with 341 yards passing en route to the win. Without Cousins at QB, the Vikings will turn to backup QB Sean Mannion, a 7 year veteran with 2 career NFL starts. Additionally, the Vikings will also be without WR Adam Thielen, one of their top playmakers.
If the Cardinals beat the Cowboys this week and the Packers beat the Vikings, Green Bay will clinch the NFC’s #1 seed for a 2nd consecutive season. If Dallas wins, Green Bay is still in control of their own destiny, as they would need to win out to clinch the 1 seed. The Vikings meanwhile are fighting for their playoff lives. It will take a win tomorrow night as well as next week for them to have a prayer at a Wild Card berth. As we get ready for an important NFC North clash, here are 3 Keys for a Packers win vs. the Vikings.
1) Stop the Run
The Packers defense will need to be much better against the run this week then they were last week against the Browns. Cleveland rushed for 219 yards against the Packers while averaging an astronomical 8.8 yards per tote. That won’t play for the remainder of the season. With Cousins out, it’s logical to believe the Vikings will lean heavily on their star RB, Dalvin Cook. In the last two games against the Packers, Cook has averaged 125 yards rushing per contest.
Packers DL Kenny Clark can consistently be counted on to make a strong impact, week in and week out. However, Green Bay desperately needs better production from their other lineman. Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster and TJ Slaton will need to be better, as well as inside backers De’vondre Campbell and Krys Barnes.
2) Win the Turnover Battle
The Packers have been excellent in turnover differential in 2021. They lead the NFL with the fewest giveaways at 10, which is 0.67 turnovers per game, an outstanding mark. Defensively, they have created 26 turnovers, which is tied for 6th best in the league.
The Vikings have also been protective of the football, ranking 3rd best in the NFL in giveaways with 13. However, without their starting quarterback tomorrow, the Packers should have more opportunities than usual to create turnovers, whether that be strip-sacks or interceptions.
It’s hard to envision the Packers losing tomorrow night unless they shoot themselves in the foot with stupid mistakes. If they take care of the football and perhaps create a turnover or two, they will put themselves in a great position to pickup a win.
3) Extra Attention to Jefferson
The Packers recently played a backup Quarterback in Tyler Huntley with the Ravens and he shredded the defense apart. A big reason why was the connection with Star TE Mark Andrews, who had 10 receptions for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hopefully, that was a lesson learned that Green Bay can apply tomorrow night.
With Cousins and Thielen out of the picture, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to hypothesize the Vikings desire to get WR Justin Jefferson involved. Their 2nd year Superstar WR will surely want plenty of targets and the Packers need to make sure he doesn’t turn into Mark Andrews 2.0.
The Packers defense should have success against a backup Quarterback making his 3rd career NFL start and yet to throw a touchdown in his career. This is a big game for both teams and the Packers have the significant edge. I expect the Packers to have a very balanced mix of both runs and passes and I believe they will be motivated against their division rival who beat them a little over a month ago.
Packers 31 Vikings 17——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.