WOW! If lthe ending to last week’s game against the Cowboys didn’t have your heart pounding, then there probably isn’t anything in sports that will. Once again the Packers started out slow but in the second half Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers took control. Green Bay was down 3 with 1:13 left on the clock but I think we all had a feeling that this was too much time for Aaron Rodgers to do what he needed to do. The offense went 75 yards and with a little magic from the greatest quarterback breathing today the Packers got a score with 11 seconds left on a touchdown strike to the once maligned Davante Adams. It was unbelievable and the reason we love football. Unfortunately though we have to move on, and this week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. That’s right; its Vikings Hate Week! (just kidding, sort of) But anyways, let’s break down this week’s matchup with NFC North Rivals, the Minnesota Vikings!
3 BURNING QUESTIONS
Can Aaron Jones keep it up?
During the Packers game against the Bears unfortunately both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams were forced to exit due to injuries and Montgomery wasn’t able to play this past week against the Cowboys. Although every injury is awful sometimes it clears the way to playing time for a talented player who otherwise might not have gotten a shot so early. Enter Aaron Jones. During the Bears game he looked decent but didn’t quite light it up. He had 13 carries for 49 yards, good for 3.8 YPC and a touchdown. Against the Cowboys though, he really broke out. Jones had 19 carries for 125 yards! He averaged nearly 7 yards per carry and added a touchdown to that as well. He looked phenomenal and showed fantastic burst and vision. He potentially adds a much needed extra element to the offense which could take it to another level. The question is he can he do it consistently? This week will be a big test against Minnesota’s extremely talented defense especially the front seven. If he can keep it up this week it could be a big step towards proving that he can be a big part of the running back rotation going into the future.
Can the Packers shut down the Vikings run game?
The Vikings suffered a huge blow two weeks ago when rookie phenom running back exited the game with an ACL tear. Cook had been running very well averaging 4.8 yards per carry and was the focal point of the offense. But with him out of the picture the Vikings running back picture is just a little cloudy. They have returning back Jerrick McKinnon and also free agent signing Latavius Murray. McKinnon had 95 yards on 16 carries good for nearly six yards per carry. Though a large portion of this production came on one carry he had for 58 yards. Murray had 12 carries for only 31 yards. Unless one of them seriously steps up this could be a very serious problem going forward as they are going to need to lean on the run game for at least the foreseeable future. This is because unfortunately their quarterback situation is just as murky. Sam Bradford is dealing with a knee injury and backup quarterback Case Keenum is… well… he’s Case Keenum. With this being the case, the key to stopping the Vikings could very well be shutting down the rushing offense. Mike Daniels and company will be in for a challenge as the Vikings will likely try to force the run all game long. Will they hold up?
Can the secondary slow down the Vikings WR duo?
The Vikings have a couple of very talented wide receivers who don’t seem to get much love around the league. As of right now Stefon Diggs is fifth in the NFL with 395 receiving yards and I think we all remember Adam Theilen hanging over 200 yards on the Packers at Lambeau last season. The question is can Davon House and company keep these two under control? The Packers secondary is not necessarily known as a lockdown unit but it is improved from last year. They are quietly having a decent season and are currently ranked number 10 in the league even after facing some very talented passing offenses. This has been due in part to rookie cornerback Kevin King, but unfortunately his status for this week is very much in doubt. He suffered a concussion during last week’s game with the Cowboys and has not yet practiced yet. Will Damarious Randall step up in place of the injured King? It will take a strong effort from the entire group to slow down these two talented receivers, no matter who is throwing the ball.
2 KEY MATCHUPS
Nick Perry vs Riley Reiff
Nick Perry has had a pretty decent season to this point. He has 2.5 sacks to his credit along with 14 tackles and one forced fumble but it could be very important for him to have a big game this week. He will spend much of the game lined up across from Vikings newly signed offensive tackle, Riley Reiff. Over the past few seasons the Vikings front five has been much maligned and for good reason, it had been a carousel of below par pass and run blockers but this year it seems improved. Reiff is a big part of that improvement and Nick Perry’s ability to get past, through and around him could swing this game in the Packers favor. With neither of the Vikings quarterback options being particularly mobile at the moment any sort of pressure could prove detrimental to the Vikings passing attack.
However the pass rush is not the only reason this is an important matchup. Reiff is known to be a very good run blocker and PFF had Nick Perry rated as the number one run defender at his position last season. The Vikings are very likely to attempt to lean on the run game in order to alleviate pressure off of the quarterback, so it will be critical for Perry to shut down his side of the defense and force runs back into the middle.
Davantae Adams vs Trae Waynes
Last week Davantae Adams made a miraculous recovery from a very hard, and dirty hit he received courtesy of the Bears Danny Trevathan. But he came back with a vengeance he had 7 receptions for 66 yards to go with two touchdowns, including the game winner. Thus far this season he has been deadly using double moves within his routes to create separation and has made a few cornerbacks looks silly. This week he will likely spend some time matched up against Vikings 2015 first round pick Trae Waynes. Waynes has all the potential in the world but has not yet been able to consistently put it together which make this the perfect kind of matchup Rodgers loves to exploit. Opposite Waynes the Vikings have shut down corner Xavier Rhodes who wasn’t even targeted in the Vikings last game. I would expect that he won’t have another afternoon with no targets but it wouldn’t be surprising for Rodgers to target Waynes much more. If Adams is lined up across from Waynes for a large portion of this week’s game it could be an important matchup that goes a long ways towards determining the success of the offense.
ONE BOLD PREDICTION
This week I think the passing game is really going to be rolling and a lot of that will likely come to last week’s hero: Davantae Adams. As I just said there is at least a good chance he will be matched up against Trae Waynes for much of the game who has proved to be vulnerable to double moves on occasion. This sets up well for Adams to have another very big game on offense. Look for Rodgers to look to Adams early and often on short passes in order to set up longer passes off of double moves later in the game. At least another seven catches will likely be in the cards for him. Along with those seven catches look for Davantae to have at least 120 yards and add another score to his growing tally for 2017.
GO PACK GO