The Packers completed their third straight victory Christmas Day in Miami. Coupled with several favorable results, the left for dead team nearly controls its own fate going into the final stretch of the season. Green Bay has the look of a surging team, which if they can make it into the playoffs, is a scary thing for the rest of the NFC. This week, they get a stern test from the playoff bound Vikings. As the Packers playoff push moves forward, they will need some breakout performances from some unlikely sources.
Quay Walker and De’Vondre Campbell
The inside linebacker duo De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker have been stacking up quality performances over recent weeks. They have been quite literally everywhere on the field. They both have continuously shown good instincts and solid decision making. While they are both still making the occasional mistake, the dynamic duo is beginning to combine into what the Packers envisioned when they drafted Walker.
This week against Minnesota, the Packers will again lean heavily on their inside linebackers. They will want to keep in base defense as much as they can to prevent the run. Joe Barry will need to develop a plan to contain another potent offense, one that had its way with the Packers in week 1. Undoubtably, Campbell and Walker will be the cornerstones of any defensive effort to secure a win on Sunday.
In the past two games, Devonte Wyatt has begun to put it all together. He’s quietly been putting together a series of better and better performances. With the season ending injury to Dean Lowry, his opportunities are undoubtedly going to increase. Playing next to Kenny Clark and Jarran Reed, he will be getting a huge number of one-on-one opportunities in the coming weeks, and Wyatt will need to make the most of them. In his limited role, there are times where his aggressiveness causes him to vacate his assignment. This cannot happen this week against Minnesota.
The Vikings offense is pretty balanced and is at its best when it can keep teams guessing. Wyatt absolutely will need to push the pocket but also will need to ensure that he isn’t being manipulated to get out of position.
In many ways Zach Tom has been a Godsend. Moving around the offensive line as injuries occurred, he has maintained stability at both tackle and guard. Tom has been essential in keeping the offensive line cohesive. It’s beyond impressive that he has stepped in so well for David Bakhtiari after his emergency surgery. It’s not common to have a 4th round rookie play so well.
Even if Bakhtiari can return this week, now starting right tackle Yosh Nijman his status is in question after dropping out of Sunday’s game. Tom may be pushed into duty on the other side of the line. He will be heavily relied on to keep the unit coordinated. For the offense to continue to build on their December success, the offensive line will need to show out Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.