Week 6: Vikings And Packers – Three Reasons For Optimism
It’s Vikings versus Packers, round one baby! Lets take a look at why both teams have multiple reasons to be excited about today’s game in Minneapolis.
- QB Clarity – It appears as if quarterback Sam Bradford has played his last snap as a Minnesota Viking. At the very least, it’s a safe bet to assume that Bradford will not re-sign with the team this offseason due to his lingering knee issues. That answers that, right? Let’s say for now it does. Moving forward, that leaves the Vikings with quarterbacks Case Keenum (current starter), virtual unknown Kyle Sloter, and the man everyone is talking about, Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is expected to come off the PUP list and return to practice this week. Although Keenum will remain the starter as long as he’s playing well and winning games, one has to assume the Vikings will inevitably hand the keys of the offense back to Bridgewater.
- Mike Zimmer’s Defense – Aaron Rodgers has actually done pretty well against the Vikings defense since Zimmer took over in 2014. According to Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin, Rodgers has completed 60.7 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns, four interceptions and 29 sacks (93.3 rating) against Zimmer’s scheme. Where Zimmer’s defenses have succeeded, however, is getting Rodgers on the ground. The Vikings have sacked Rodgers 19 times during the six games in the coach’s tenure. The Vikings boast the sixth best run defense in the NFL (80 yards per game), though their focus today will likely be stopping Rodgers and the Packers potent passing attack. Players like Anthony Barr, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, and Harrison Smith have all played extremely well through five games and will look to continue their disruptive ways against Rodgers and the Packers in Week 6.
- Home-Field Advantage – The Vikings will play in front of their home crowd today at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Although down in the all-time series 60-51-2, Minnesota has won two of the past three meetings against Green Bay. The Vikings are 7-4 all-time at U.S. Bank Stadium.
- Aaron Rodgers – How can you not put A. A. Ron Rodgers on this list? Rodgers is on his way towards another terrific season. The 33-year-old quarterback has thrown for 1,367 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Through five games, he has a passer rating of 104.1, which happens to be the exact same number as his career passer rating. The guy is simply a game changer and gives the Packers a (good) chance to win every week. Making Rodgers’ job easier lately has been Green Bay’s emerging rushing attack.
- Aaron Jones – Rookie running back Aaron Jones showed a lot of potential in his first NFL start. Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, Jones had 19 carries for 125 yards (6.6 YPC) and a touchdown. Ty Montgomery, who began the season as the Packers’ starter, missed last week’s game after he suffered multiple broken ribs in Week 4 against Chicago. While Montgomery possesses the size and hands that Rodgers likes to see in a running back in a pass-happy offense, Jones is a more traditional runner. The 5th-round pick out of UTEP gives the Packers a prototypical 3-down back that can give them yards on the ground. That’s something Green Bay hasn’t seen since the days of Ahman Green. Look for the duo to split snaps today.
- Pass Defense – This came as a surprise to this writer; Green Bay’s passing defense ranks 6th in the NFL (199.8 yards per game). Even with multiple injuries to the defensive secondary, the Packers have been able to keep a cap on opposing offenses. That’s a big reason why Green Bay has won three games in a row and is 4-1 through five games. The Vikings are tied with Detroit at 3-2 for second in the division while Chicago is fourth at 1-4. Green Bay will be without starters Kevin King (cornerback) and Morgan Burnett (safety) today.