Packers and played like numpties. This period was filled with doldrums and lasted about six seasons. Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre was employed by the Vikings when it started, but he was culminating his career with an abysmal season. The year was 2010.
Minnesota lost twice to the Packers that season, and this was the beginning of border-battle
futility for the Vikings.
The tide was not turned until late in the 2015 season. From 2010 until that point, the Packers owned those 12 matchups over the Vikings with a record of 10-1-1 (.875). Signal-caller Aaron Rodgers was at a peak of his powers that can be classified as one of the best six-year runs by any quarterback in NFL history. And, of course, Rodgers was relentless toward Minnesota, among others.
The aforementioned tide came in during head coach Mike Zimmer’s second year. Green Bay lost the final game of the regular season – on their home field – to the Vikings in 2015. The NFC
North division crown turned purple as a result. It was unknowable at the time, but this would be the game that concluded the Packers dominance over the Vikings.
Since then, Green Bay has only toppled Minnesota in three out of the last eight showdowns
(with two of those victories by the Packers occurring in 2019).
The next chapter in the rivalry will be authored this Sunday afternoon.
So, how do the Vikings generally conquer the Packers? It’s a three-part strategy based on
recent historical trends.
Keep the Score Low
Two of the metrics explained in the guts of this analysis are pertinent to Mike Zimmer’s tenure of
Vikings history. A dissertation can be written about the all-time scope of the Horns vs. Cheese saga.
Thematically, the most common and recent attribute of games in which the Vikings defeat the
Packers involves the volume of total points scored. That is, when the combined point total between both teams – the Vikings and Packers – stays low, the Vikings typically win.
Since Zimmer took over in 2014, the Vikings are 4-1 (.800) in games where Minnesota and
Green Bay cumulatively score 35 points or less. Conversely, when a total of 36 points or more is tallied by both teams, the Vikings win-loss falls to 1-5-1 (.214). This a salient and tangible point of inflection.
Packers tend to win. In games where the total is less than that, the Vikings win. Therefore, if this
week’s game is destined to be a squeaker, it’s advantageous for Minnesota to jostle to a 17-14
style score or something like 20-14.
It’s totally fine to file this under the “duh” category – we here at Vikings Territory get it. Indeed, it
is preferred for any NFL team to begin the scoring festivities early on in a football game. But this especially rings true in the recent Vikings-Packers feud.
In the last six years, the Vikings are 3-1 (.750) when they are the team to score first versus the
Packers. When Green Bay scores first, it’s the opposite. The Vikings are 2-5-1 (.313) against
Green Bay when the green and gold are first on the scoreboard. Albeit a relatively small sample
size, this is a 44 percent gap.
On the whole, Minnesota instantly becomes one of the best teams in the NFL when they score
first in a footbal game. Under Zimmer, the Vikings are 39-10 (.796) when they etch points into
the box score first. They are the second-best in the NFL with this metric, trailing only the New
England Patriots. Versus all NFL opponents, the Vikings tumble to a 39 percent win-rate when
the opposition scores first. This is still the 11th-best win-rate in the NFL in this circumstance, but
the percentage dips even further when it is the Packers jumping on the Vikings early.
Aaron Rodgers Must be Sacked
For indicator stats such as these, this one should be considered blunt-force trauma for your
When the Vikings sack Aaron Rodgers, Minnesota wins the game. In games where Rodgers is sacked minimally or not at all, Green Bay is victorious. Plain and simple. And this tendency pre-dates Mike Zimmer. This a Rodgers-versus-Vikings thing.
Since 2008, Aaron Rodgers is 11-0 against the Vikings when Minnesota sacks him fewer than four times. Yet when the Vikings actually do sack Rodgers, to the tune of four or more times,
Rodgers is 2-8-1 (.227) versus the Vikings. This is a fundamental and glaring differential.
Each of these three metrics can be measured and applied respectively. That means — just one
of these items will generally indicate that the Vikings are on the path to victory over the Packers:
a) A low-scoring game
b) The Vikings score first
The odds increase if the Vikings implement the strategies as a trifecta.
Watch for it this Sunday.