Packers and Vikings come into Week 2 looking to take control of the NFC North and a one game lead early on. The Vikings beat the Falcons at home in Week 1 28-12 but the game was 28-0 going into the 4th Quarter before the Falcons scored two meaningless touchdowns. The Vikings defense was as advertised but some of their pressures on the QB are due to an awful Falcons offensive line. On offense the Vikings threw the ball just 10 times but ran the ball 38 times. Even running the ball 38, the Vikings actually held the ball for less time than the Falcons, 29:47 compared to 30:13. Just like last years Week 2 game this will be a huge one for the Packers and hopefully this one doesn’t end up in a tie but in a Packers convincing win.
When the Packers Have the Ball
The Packers are going to a tough game again going up against a very good Vikings defense however, this Vikings defense isn’t as good as the Bears which the Packers just saw. Going up against a poorer defense, plus not playing on the road in a hyped up hostile environment, plus playing the home opener, and I think we’ll see an improved Packers offense.
First things first the Packers need to establish the run early and often which I am sure Coach LaFleur is emphasizing this week. The run game struggled in the first half against the Bears but Aaron Jones did rip off a few chunk runs in the second half which was good to see. You would like to see the Packers run the ball much better against the Vikings, a team that doesn’t have a good as front seven the Bears have. What I would also like to see is different types of runs coming from those motions with sweeps, jet sweeps, and those quick hitters right up the gut you see the Rams run quite often with Todd Gurley. The Bears front seven really threw the Packers off their game-plan I think, so I would expect to see more Aaron Jones and more Danny Vitale who was used a lot in training camp according to reports. Vitale can run and catch the ball very well.
As far as the passing game goes, it all falls on Rodgers. Guys were open yet Rodgers was still making technical mistakes like throwing off his back foot. The Packers ran some good routes off play action and the offensive line gave Rodgers good protection after those first few series. The Vikings have a very good pass rush and if David Bahktari doesn’t play then this could be a long game for Rodgers when he drops back. The Packers didn’t do much in the passing game against the Bears besides the bomb to MVS and the TD to Jimmy Graham so there is only where to go but up. The Packers ran a lot of RPO’s against the Bears but it wasn’t the normal version you see from the shotgun with a running QB. The RPO’s the Packers were running came from under center where Rodgers had the option to toss the ball out to a open receiver or actually run the ball. One of those was to Adams on the TD drive and the other was on the final drive, where Rodgers threw a bad pass to MVS. In the past those kinds of plays came out of nowhere from Rodgers and Favre, mainly on slants but with the Packers offense starting out more condensed, those throws turned into out routes and it looked like they were called from the get go. If you have a run played called, but the defender is 8 yards off of Adams, have him run a quite out route, get him the ball, and let him do work after the catch. The play I’m talking about with Adams come in at the 1:27 mark in the video below.
The other thing I want to see from Rodgers is less throw aways and a better completion percentage. This tweet is circulating the internet right now and I don’t like it one bit.
By the end of this year, I hope Graham, MVS and maybe GMO is close to being above that throwing the ball out of play number. I want to see Rodgers be quick and decisive in his decisions, and know where he wants to go with the ball right away. Obviously we all love when he dances around and finds a big play, but I would love to see some quick on target throws that can get the offense ahead of the chains, especially on the first down passing calls.
When the Vikings Have the Ball
(Insert Kirk Cousins sucks joke here). Kirk Cousins sucks. Last week against the Falcons the Vikings probably didn’t have to throw ball if they didn’t want to, and they only decided to throw the ball only 10 times. The Packers defense is going to be a stiffer test than what the Falcons showed last Sunday. First lets start with the run game which is what the Vikings really want to do. This year not only do they have Dalvin Cook healthy, but they also drafted a another good RB Alexander Mattison who had a good day against Atlanta also. The Vikings busted out a ton of big chunk gains which is what the Packers need to stop first and foremost. The Packers can handle one or two of those but if the Vikings bust out 5 or 6 run gains of 10+ yards then the Pack are in trouble. Much was made of the pressure the Packers got on Trubiscuit in Week 1 but they also shut down the Bears run game. The Bears run game is different than the Vikings. The Bears will run straight at you but they also try to trick the defense and use sweeping motions and get their WRs involved.
The Vikings run game is different. The Vikings want to line up and pound the ball, and every once in awhile you might see a jet sweet with Diggs or Theilen. The Packers front seven is going to have their job cut out for them and the other DL like Adams, Lancaster, Looney, and Lowry will have much bigger roles to play this Sunday. It will also be interesting to see if the Packers stick with Raven Greene in more so than newly acquired LB B.J. Goodsoon. DC Mike Pettine just said this week the Packers base defense is the 3-3-5 but with that 5th DB (Raven Greene), playing a hybrid DB/LB role. I think the Vikings are going to force the Packers into a old fashioned 3-4 look more often. Packers #1 priority is stopping the run.
When it comes to the passing game for the Vikings it all comes down to their OL which is still a work in progress. They drafted and are starting a Rookie Center in Garrett Bradbury, moved former Center Pat Elfein to LG, and signed Josh Kline to play RG. The run blocking was great, the pass blocking was so-so and now they have to go up against a Packers defense that led the league in QB pressures in Week 1. For this reason alone, stopping the run should be the Packers #1 priority.
Outside of the OL the Vikings have more and better weapons than the Bears. Dalvin Cook can catch the ball, then the Vikings obviously have Diggs and Theilen at WR, Kyle Rudolph at TE, and they also spent an early round pick on TE Irv Smith Jr. Cousins as the weapons but can he get them the ball? This Packers secondary played great last week and they stayed healthy. Last year in Green Bay, Diggs and Theilen destroyed the Packers thanks to some of the shittiest Safety play I’ve ever seen. This year should be different. I would not be surprised at all to see the Vikings come out and try to counter the Packers pass rush with a lot of quick, easy throws for Cousins and hopefully the Packers tackling is up to par again.
As Packer fans we just have to accept to a certain extent that one of the Vikings WR’s are going to get their simply because they are so talented. If the Packers can keep one in check, Diggs or Theilen, it will vastly improve the Packers chances at winning this game.
This is a huge game for the Packers, they can move to 2-0 while beating two divisional opponents. The Packers also play 5 of their next 6 at home and its important to start the season out at home on a winning note. LaFleur and the Packers also want to establish a home field advantage at Lambeau the Packers seemed to have been missing the past couple years. That’s why during preseason you heard the horn going off or the lights flashing. Apparently the Packers have videos of players telling fans to get up. I hope all the old grumpy people at Lambeau turn those smiles into frowns and stand up and participate in the game. When you buy a ticket to a game, you’re not just paying to watch the game in person, you’re paying to support your team and join every other Packer fan in that place in doing so which involves standing up and being apart of the culture there. People are paying good money for their tickets, if they want to stand up and cheer, let me, don’t be a grumpy bitch and tell them to sit down. You can sit down at home and watch the game if that’s all your going to do there.
Packers are favored by 3 currently. Biased, I like the Packers to cover.
Go Pack Go.