The Packers did what they do best last week, breaking Dallas Cowboy hearts. It was a wild shootout in Texas as once again Rodgers plunged a dagger into Jason Garrett’s side with a last second game-winning drive. The Packers #12 fought off four sacks to throw for 221 yards and three scores, as well as adding 32 crucial yards with his feet. He was complimented by rookie running back Aaron Jones who picked up 125 yards to keep the offense well balanced.
The Vikings won a tight Monday night affair with the Chicago Bears last week 20-17, Sam Bradford returned from his knee troubles, but not for long. He completed five passes before having to make way for Case Keenum, who completed 17 of his 21 passes to keep the offense ticking.
In their first game without rookie Dalvin Cook this year the Vikings were able to survive, and thrive, with Jerick McKinnon. He ended up leading the team in both rushing (95 yards) and receiving (51 yards), but the question is can he do it again? Green Bay are 21st in yards per carry allowed (4.3) so you would think the Vikings can keep the chains moving on the ground, but this Packers front can lock down a running game on it’s day, especially if Mike Daniels is back to 100%.
Play your own game
When you face a passing game as devastating as the Packers’ it can often push teams off their game, with coaches feeling they have to pull out all the stops to compete. However, that’s not always the case. Often the best way to combat a great quarterback is simply to do what you do and play to your own strengths. The Vikings have a good defensive line and get consistent pressure without having to bring extra bodies. There is no need to come off their usual game plan until it is shown that Rodgers can succeed against their front.
This philosophy goes doubly on offense. Just because Aaron Rodgers is on the other sideline doesn’t mean they need to immediately abandon the run and have Case Keenum throw on every down. Mike Zimmer cannot let his coordinators get spooked by the sight of #12.
The Vikings have been extremely stingy in the giveaway department. Despite their changes under center they are yet to throw an interception, with their only turnovers being four lost fumbles. Green Bay have been almost as good, giving up the football five times. However, both defenses are good at taking the ball away. Minnesota have four picks in five games, and the Packers are masters at forcing and recovering fumbles so far this year, collecting an NFL-best six. Whoever wins the turnover battle in this one will have a distinct advantage.
WR Jordy Nelson vs CB’s Trae Waynes & Xavier Rhodes
The Packers may spread the ball out well, but when it comes to the red zone and moving the chains, Jordy Nelson is the man. The veteran receiver leads the NFL with six touchdown catches, 17 of his 19 receptions have been either scores of first downs. Minnesota have a deep stable of corners to matchup against the Packers receivers, but they will have to be wary of wherever Nelson lines up and be extremely mindful of him when the Packers get down to the red zone. Nelson didn’t finish the game in Dallas due to a back injury, but he has been practicing this week and looks set to torment the Vikings again.
Fantasy Tip: Martellus Bennett, TE, Green Bay Packers
The Vikings are not particularly great at defending tight ends, allowing 56 yards a game and nearly eight receptions a game. Bennett has started to get some good looks in the Packers offense, and if Nelson’s back does go expect Rodgers to start feeding his tight end as the Vikings shift their coverage over to Davante Adams.
Betting Tip: Packers (-3)
Taking road favorites is always risky, but in the friendly confines of a dome, against a Vikings team that is without it’s best weapon in Cook and a groin injury at least limiting, if not sidelining, Stefon Diggs, it feels like a buoyant Packers side will have enough to go to 5-1 and take a stranglehold over the NFC North.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31 – 24 Minnesota Vikings
When this Packers defense plays with a lead it can be deadly. They get good pressure on the passer and can really stymie passing attacks that are not flawless. For as good as the Vikings defense can be, they do allow teams to drive on them, and with Rodgers that is very risky. Barring any terrible injuries I think the Packers will have enough to secure this game fairly comfortably.
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