The Packers did a very good job in Jacksonville for much of the game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers played well, the defense did its job, and placekicker Mason Crosby didn’t miss.
Heck, the two weaknesses going into the game, guard Lane Taylor and the run defense were above average and excellent, respectively (I still think it was foolish to cut ties with Josh Sitton, and unless Lane Taylor is All-Pro this season, I won’t change my mind).
Jacksonville was an early test, and since most of the starters barely played in preseason, they should be heading into the next game ready to go. That’s good, because the toughest game of the season is likely this week. On Sunday Night Football, the Packers will be heading into the brand new US Bank stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota to take on the Vikings.
The new stadium thing is a nice touch and some extra motivation for the Vikings, but honestly, the pressure is all on them. Especially now that Sam Bradford will be making his first start as a Viking. The Vikings are opening up a new stadium, lost their starting QB for the season yet still have Super Bowl aspirations, and want to be able to prove that. They want to show the world that they can beat the Packers, which is what they will have to go through at some point to make it to Houston in early February. They will need to play better offense than they did on Sunday, however, if they want a chance.
Realistically, the Vikings won 25-10, as the Titans scored in the final minute to make the final score 25-16. The Vikings, however, failed to score at all in the first half, and never scored an offensive touchdown in the game. Against a young, inexperienced QB, that might be just enough to win a game, but Rodgers does not turn the ball over for the most part (and was turnover-free Sunday), and two defensive scores is not something to hope for. The Vikings offense needs to play better if they want any shot against the Packers.
I think it is safe to say that the Packers will load the box and force Bradford to beat them, and the Titans did a great job in containing RB Adrian Peterson. His 19 rushes for 31 yards is likely Peterson’s worst game of his career, so expect him to try to bounce back.
The Packers held Jacksonville running back T.J. Yeldon to 21 rushes for 39 yards and a touchdown, so they did a good job as well. It will be an interesting battle for sure. The receivers in Minnesota are also not as good as the ones in Jacksonville, and the Packers were relatively good at containing them last week. Keeping both Allens under 75 yards with no touchdowns is a huge win for the Pack, and a huge reason why they won the game. Assuming Sam Shields can get through concussion protocol quickly, the Packers should have no trouble with the Vikings’ passing game.
On offense, it will be tough to try to find ways around this talented Vikings defense. The best thing to probably do is to keep working the run and pass, and out play-call the Vikings. At least in the back of their minds, if not the front as well, they have built this defense with the hopes of stopping the Packers’ offense, and so far they have done a good job building one like that. In other words, that side of the ball is talent vs. talent, and it is up to Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy to keep the Vikings guessing and not let them get sacks or turnovers. If the Packers can do that, they can score enough to win this game.
I’m going with a low-scoring, defensive battle for this final score prediction, and the Packers should not be favored by much even with the Bridgewater injury. Still, the pressure is all on the Vikings, and I still believe the Packers can win this game, with a final score of Green Bay 14, Minnesota 13.
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