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Wobby’s Weekly Mixtape

A smattering of topics, fan questions, and more each Friday from our new managing editor

Wrong Aaron! It’s Jones, Not Rodgers, Who Benefits Most from Hunter’s Absence

The excitement of Week 1 took a bit of a hit in Vikings Nation on Wednesday
when it was announced DE Danielle Hunter was placed on the
Reserve/Injured list with an injury. Hunter, the team’s top pash rusher a
season ago, has a significant presence on the team’s defense and his role
was only more important heading into 2020 with the departure of veteran
Everson Griffen.

The good news is Hunter can return to the field after three games. But as of
now, there’s no assurance he will. His status will remain a lingering question
as the Vikings embark on the season.

First things first: Let’s all wish for a speedy recovery for Hunter.
Secondarily, though, how does his absence impact the Vikings?

It obviously stings from a pass-rushing standpoint. Hunter had 14.5 sacks in
back-to-back seasons during 2018 and 2019, earning him a pair of Pro Bowl
nods. Those two seasons also helped him become the fastest player to reach
50.0 career sacks (he’s still only 25 years old).

So, one might presume, opposing QBs, including Aaron Rodgers, are breathing a sigh of relief

knowing they may not have to face a fully-healthy Hunter this season. But for
this week, at least, there’s another Aaron who may benefit even more. And
that’s Aaron Jones.

The Packers running back had 270 rushing yards against the Vikings in 2019
and now with Hunter out of the mix for Week 1 his chances of duplicating last
season’s success are enhanced. For as productive as Hunter has been in
rushing the passer, he’s just as important and productive as a run-stopper.
After Green Bay in Week 1, the Vikings face the Colts in Week 2 and the
Titans in Week 3.

The Colts have one of the NFL’s best run-blocking offensive

lines and the Titans feature Derrick Henry, the 2019 rushing champion.
Needless to say, an opportunity exists for young Vikings defenders to step up
along the defensive line in Hunter’s stead. With or without Hunter, Vikings
Head Coach Mike Zimmer will be able to generate a pass rush in the short
term. Whether he can find a way stem the tide against the run without

Hunter may be the larger problem.

TWEETS OF THE WEEK

Green Bay has had some good teams over the last 20 years. They haven’t
had success solely because of favorable officiating. They’ve had success
because of good coaching, excellent QB play and timely defensive
playmaking. But the facts are the facts, and Green Bay is clearly an extreme
outlier in these two charts.

Will be interesting to see what home-field advantage looks like early this
season with no, or a limited amount, of fans in buildings to generate noise
and momentum.

A testament to the sustained success New England established in the Bill
Belichick-Tom Brady era. Gamblers clearly respected Patriots teams over the
years. What an incredible stat!

 

Thank you all so much for the kind words, the welcoming attitude and the
fun conversation this week as we all prepared to kickoff another NFL season.
Let’s go!

POWER RANKINGS: NFL DIVISIONS

From hardest to win to easiest to run away with, here are the eight NFL
divisions ranked, according to Yours Truly.

1. NFC West:

A legit three-way race with a fourth team that could push

eight wins

2. NFC South:

It’s the Saints division to lose, but Atlanta and Tom Brady’s

Buccaneers are real threats

3. NFC North:

Green Bay and Minnesota headline this race, but both

Chicago and Detroit have designs to turn this thing upside down

4. AFC North:

Similar to the NFC South, this is Baltimore’s to lose but

there are no easy games within this division

5. AFC East:

A brutal two-team slobberknocker lies ahead for Buffalo and

New England

6. AFC South:

Close call with the NFC East here, but the rosters in the

AFCS are better than the rosters in the NFCE

7. NFC East:

See above

8. AFC West:

Can anyone seriously challenge the Chiefs this season?

QUOTABLE

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is pressured by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) during an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
“Some of the plays he makes takes your breath away. It’s kind of like
watching Barry Sanders.”

— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on Aaron Rodgers

Appropriate and cool comparison drawn by Zimmer. I’m sure many of you
reading this remember Barry Sanders terrorizing Vikings defenses in the
1990s. Rodgers has done the same – at a more impactful position – to the
Vikings over the last 12 seasons.

QUESTIONABLE

Let’s start with the defense. Anthony Barr is the guy. When Barr is playing
great, the Vikings defense elevates to another level. He can just do things
athletically that most LBs can’t do and that makes it tough on the offense.
When he’s at the top of his game, Barr is a tremendous weapon for Mike
Zimmer because he can be deployed in so many different ways. He can
pressure, he can cover, he can disguise…he’s a special player when he’s
“on.”

There’s no way around it on offense – it’s Kirk Cousins. This is a QB and
coach league. The Vikings need Cousins to get them in the right play at the
line of scrimmage, they need him to be unafraid to improvise and they need
him to take care of the ball.

I’m not convinced the Vikings did enough from a personnel standpoint to
generate improvement along the offensive line. Brian O’Neill is good and it
feels like Garrett Bradbury will fine. After that, all bets are off. I’d feel much
better with Riley Reiff at one of the OG spots or RT and then O’Neill at LT. But
that’s not where the Vikings are at the moment. While I can’t say I trust the
personnel, I can say I trust the coaching and scheme. It’s also worth noting
that no group relies on synergy more than an offensive line, and you don’t
need talent to develop synergy. The optimal outcome here is this group stays
healthy and they become a unit whose whole performance is better than the
sum of the individual parts.

ATS, SU and TOTALS

Each week in this space, we’ll keep track (and make fun) of my favorite
gambling angles on the NFL docket. We’ll track five of my selections against
the spread (ATS), five totals (over/under total points) and then every
matchup straight up (SU).

ATS (0-0)
CAR +3 vs LV
CIN +3 vs LAC
TEN -2.5 at DEN (MNF)
NYG +6 vs PIT (MNF)
ATL +2.5 vs SEA

TOTALS (0-0)
MIA at NE: 43.0 UNDER
TB at NO: 49.5 OVER
PHI at WAS: 43.0 OVER
GB at MIN: 46.0 UNDER
ARI at SF: 47.0 UNDER

STRAIGHT UP (0-0)
Winners: KC, NE, MIN, WAS, IND, ATL, DET, BAL, CAR, BUF, CIN, NO, SF, LAR,
NYG, TEN
Tags

Mike Wobschall

Wobby worked for the Vikings for the Vikings Entertainment Network for 15 years, and brings his expertise, optimism, analysis and connections to PurpleTERRITORY Media as the new managing editor.

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