Vikings Fans Need Patience: Week 8 Has the Matchup Everyone Wants to See

Has Justin Jefferson Ever Struggled So Mightily?
Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander does The Griddy after breaking up a pass intended for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Jaire Alexander didn’t make too many friends in Minnesota last year. Indeed, Vikings fans don’t love the Packers’ CB1 (and, very likely, the top corner in the division).

The bad blood started before the game began. Alexander, never one to betray a lack of confidence, talked about stifling Justin Jefferson before the duel. Afterwards, Alexander was similarly outgoing in his confidence, crediting his ability to “follow” Jefferson as the key to shutting him down.

Vikings Fans Are on
Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) catches a pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers defensive back Jaire Alexander. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The showboating in the game itself certainly didn’t help matters, at least when it comes to being popular in The State of Hockey:

Elsewhere in the game, Alexander landed a double-handed press on Jefferson, causing Minnesota’s WR1 to stumble. Any defensive coach will tell you that it’s poor form to press with both hands. The audacious move leaves the CB vulnerable to getting absolutely roasted. If he misses with his punch, he’ll be totally off balance since he’s lunging with both hands, allowing the receiver to run unencumbered down the field. Alexander didn’t miss, though, instead knocking Jefferson off his stride.

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his catch against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Without question, Jaire Alexander got the better of Justin Jefferson is last year’s matchup. The Vikings’ receiver had some excuses – the footing was terrible, the play from Kirk Cousins was less than ideal – but those excuses can only go so far. After all, Alexander was dealing with the same field.

Jefferson finished the game with a single catch for 15 yards. He was targeted 5 times, tied for the lowest total of the season.

Vikings Fans, Alexander, and The Week 8 Slugfest

Previously, Jefferson torched the Packers secondary.

In Week 1, Jefferson put up humongous numbers. He had 9 catches, 184 yards, and 2 TDs. The wild thing is that he did the vast majority of his damage in the opening half. Green Bay was never really in that game, so Minnesota largely coasted in the second half. A more competitive game would have likely resulted in more targets for the receiver, possibly leading to a day that went well beyond 200 yards receiving.

Fired up a No
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) in action during the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

And, to be sure, Jefferson has had success against the cheeseheads. Take a look at his career stat totals versus the Pack:

  • 2020 at Home: 2 catches (3 targets), 26 yards
  • 2020 on the Road: 3 catches (4 targets), 26 yards
  • 2021 at Home: 8 catches (10 targets), 169 yards, 2 TDs
  • 2021 on the Road: 6 catches (11 targets), 58 yards
  • 2022 at Home: 9 catches (11 targets), 184 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • 2022 on the Road: 1 catch (5 targets), 15 yards

Clearly, there has been more success at U.S. Bank Stadium than in the Cheese Arena. Can we expect that to change in the upcoming season?

Is Dalvin Cook No
Nov 1, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans shouldn’t be upset at Alexander. Sure, having a rivalry is good for the sport and certainly drives fan engagement, but we also need to recognize a couple things. The Packers’ CB1 is an excellent player. Plus, the corner with supreme self-confidence is often the corner who can thrive. His confidence and excellence walk hand-in-hand, so don’t be shocked when he discusses how good he is and then seeks to prove it on the field.

The key, to my mind, is to relish the next opportunity. That’s part of the competitive spirit that makes football so great, right?

Jefferson won the first matchup last year and Alexander won the second. That leaves the score at 1-1, at least for the most recent season. Bring on Week 8 at Lambeau; I’m taking Jefferson every single time.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece. This piece originally appeared on PurplePTSD.