Vikings Mission: Eliminate the Primary Foe

Vikings Mission: Eliminate the Primary Foe
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The 12-3 Vikings will travel to Green Bay to take on the 7-8 Packers in iconic Lambeau Field. Both teams won their Week 16 matchups, and the game has playoff implications for either team. The contest features some interesting storylines.

History Books

Justin Jefferson already broke a few records, including the most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons and single-season Vikings record for receiving yards (and receptions). Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Cris Carter held the records. Now, Jefferson has positioned himself to break some more records.

Eliminate the Primary Foe
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He needs 209 more receiving yards to top Calvin Johnson’s all-time single-season mark. The former Detroit Lion recorded 1,964 yards in 2012. Jefferson is also in reach of achieving the first 2,000-yard season in NFL history. He needs 244 more receiving yards. Of course, the wideout has two games to reach those yards, but he could potentially do it in Week 17.

For most receivers, 244 yards in a game are insane numbers, but for Jefferson, it is possible. He set the new franchise record of 223 yards in Week 14 against the Lions and was robbed 32 more because the referees decided that he stepped out of bounds on a catch in the fourth quarter. The Packers have a solid passing defense, including star cornerback Jaire Alexander.

However, Jefferson has been unstoppable in recent games, and the Packers had no answer for him in Week 1 when Jefferson recorded 184 yards and two touchdowns. Last week, the Packers allowed both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to have 100-yard games.

Eliminating the Foes

Revived Packers Next
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The Vikings stood in Green Bay’s shadow in the last few years, especially in the Matt LaFleur era when the Packers won 13 games in three straight seasons after firing former head coach Mike McCarthy. This season, however, the NFC North standings are different, and the Vikings ran away with the division early in the year.

Vikings Mission: Eliminate the Primary Foe

Aaron Rodgers and his Packers won the last three games and refused to give up on the season. Kevin O’Connell could become the party crasher in his first season at the helm. If the Washington Commanders win their noon game at home against the Browns and former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings would officially eliminate the Packers from playoff contention with a win.

Revenge Game

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Za’Darius Smith was cut in March from the Packers roster. He was close to joining the Ravens but ended up staying in the NFC North, signing with the Vikings. He already had his revenge game in September when he sacked Rodgers in the Vikings’ win. In Week 17, he will return to Lambeau for the first time after his departure and meet some of the fans who didn’t have any nice words to say after signing in Minnesota.

Chandon Sullivan is also in a potential revenge game. Just like Smith, the slot cornerback was let go by the Packers after three seasons with the team. Another former Packer is Mike Pettine. The assistant Vikings head coach was the defensive coordinator in Green Bay from 2018 to 2020 before he was fired.

Kwesi’s Gift

Vikings fans were upset when GM Adofo-Mensah traded in his own division in his first draft, especially because the Lions selected Jameson Williams and the Packers Christian Watson with those two picks. The Vikings gave up the 34th overall pick and got 53 and 59 in return.

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A trade of one second-round pick in exchange for two is unheard of. The Vikings won the trade by a lot in every available metric and on every trade value graph. Watson struggled at the beginning of the season but had his breakout halfway through his rookie campaign when he scored three touchdowns against the Cowboys.

He is one of the fastest receivers in the game and can be a true game-breaker. However, he is still a relatively raw player. He is also roughly a month older than Justin Jefferson.

Watson may not play because of a hip injury, but if he does, the game will be the first of many matchups after his breakout game and will be an indicator that he will haunt the Vikings for as long as he’s in Green Bay or if he will be just a guy.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt