Official Week 2 prediction: Packers at Vikings

Eddie Lacy has had success against the Vikings, and he will be key to a Week 2 win. Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Eddie Lacy has had success against the Vikings, and he will be key to a Week 2 win. Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

Week 2 sends the Packers to Minnesota for their first divisional game of the year to take on the Vikings.

The defending NFC North champion, the Minnesota Vikings, open their new stadium against the arch rival Green Bay Packers in Week 2 of the NFL season.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers won in Minneapolis 30-13 last year, giving them three straight road victories in the series. Both squads enter the game 1-0, picking up wins away from home in their openers.

That brings you to the breakdown for Week 2. You can check out the Week 1 predictions for the Packers, which included the correct prediction of the final score (tough act to follow).

Vikings’ Offense

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s gruesome injury was a big blow to the Vikings’ offensive capabilities. They failed to score an offensive touchdown in their 25-16 win last week.

Coach Mike Zimmer hasn’t announced a starter, but it sounds like Sam Bradford will be under center in Week 2 after Shaun Hill got the call in the opener.

They (the Packers) should force a couple of turnovers and frustrate the home team’s offense.

Regardless, the offensive game plan always runs through Adrian Peterson. The ground game was brutal last week, as the team rushed for only 65 yards – 31 of them from Peterson (on 19 carries).

Peterson has averaged 110 yards per game in 16 career tilts with Packers, but was held to 67 and 45 in their two contests last season.

It’s going to be a struggle for the Vikings to score in Week 2, as the Packers will key on Peterson, pressure Bradford with numerous formations and blitzes, and likely snag a couple of turnovers to help set up the offense.

Key Offensive Player

Stefon Diggs Week 2
Stefon Diggs had over 100 yards last week and is the biggest threat to the Packers. Photo Credit: Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean-USA TODAY Sports /

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs is the true playmaker for the offense. Diggs had seven receptions for 103 yards to start the season.

He’s a game changer who can find the end zone in a flash, making corners and safeties whiff in coverage and when trying to tackle.

The Packers did a solid job on Jacksonville’s two big-play receivers, but if Sam Shields does miss Week 2, Diggs could clear the 100-yard mark again and tilt the field in Minnesota’s favor.

Vikings’ Defense

Most believe the Vikings’ defense will be among the best in the NFL, and their Week 1 performance didn’t disappoint.

They delivered a pair of touchdowns on an Eric Hendricks 77-yard interception return and a Danielle Hunter 24-yard scoop and score. They forced three Titans’ turnovers in all.

In two games last season, Rodgers threw for 587 yards with just two touchdowns and one interception. The Vikings held Green Bay to just 13 points in their meeting at Lambeau Field in Week 17.

Zimmer is a terrific defensive mind and this unit has plenty of athletic, tough guys to wreak havoc on opponents.

Look for the Vikings to give Rodgers room to work underneath while trying to pressure him up the middle with a number of wrinkles. Big plays will be in short supply and the defense will hold Eddie Lacy down all game.

Key Defensive Player

Harrison Smith has terrific vision and ideal football instincts to be a top NFL safety.

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Coming into this season, Smith had been targeted 120 times, giving up only 68 receptions and 12 touchdowns, while earning 12 passes defended and 12 interceptions.

Smith also plays the run extremely well, will put pressure on the QB when his number is called, and direct the defense with pre-snap communication.

Watch Smith throughout the game, because his level of play will be the determining factor in Vikings’ ability to slow down Green Bay’s offense.

Packers’ Offense

They showed flashes of brilliance we’ve seen in previous years, though there were still some apparent rust being knocked off.

Having Jordy Nelson back on the field was a boost and Randall Cobb had a strong opener overall. It was concerning that Jared Cook did almost nothing – two targets, one reception, and seven yards – but one could chalk that up to unfamiliarity in game one.

Mike McCarthy Week 2
Mike McCarthy is 3-1 against Mike Zimmer. Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Eddie Lacy also showed some burst in an otherwise underwhelming performance. The Packers will need him to find a few more holes and tough yards in Week 2.

Expect Mike McCarthy to try and get Lacy going early to keep the Vikings’ aggressive defense its heels a bit.

He’ll also rely on Rodgers’ ability to read coverage – before and after the snap – to find windows in the middle of the field.

Patience will be a virtue, and if the Packers avoid turnovers like they normally do, the offense should put up enough points on a stingy defense.

Key Offensive Player

Lacy will be an important cog in the offense for Week 2, even if he doesn’t get to 80 or 90 yards on the night.

If he can consistently pick up chunks of yards early, it will force Minnesota to use Smith to support the run and give Rodgers potential openings downfield where the safeties vacate.

He only picked up 34 yards rushing in the 2015 finale against the Vikings, but prior to that, he had tallied four straight 100-yard games.

Should Lacy get more than 20 carries and flirt with 80 yards, it means the Packers are controlling the tempo and are in position to win.

Packers’ Defense

The unit played with tons of energy against the Jaguars, forcing an early turnover and sacking Blake Bortles three times.

Clay Matthews and the secondary as a whole had a strong afternoon, both necessary if Green Bay’s defense wants to take a step forward this year.

Potentially playing without Shields would create a challenge, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers has no problem moving guys around throughout the game.

The Packers will likely plan to contain Peterson and dare Bradford (or Hill) to beat them with his arm. Capers will throw his usual array of blitz packages to pressure, hit and confuse the QB.

They should force a couple of turnovers and frustrate the home team’s offense.

Key Defensive Player

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Week 2
Clinton-Dix will be the X-factor in slowing down Peterson and Bradford. Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be all over the field in this one and looking to make his mark against the run and the pass.

Clinton-Dix collected five tackles, one pass defended, and one forced fumble last week, the type of all-around game one can expect from him all season.

His ability to read plays will be a major factor in the defense’s plan to bottle up Peterson while irritating the QB. It’s easy to see Clinton-Dix getting his hands on the ball and Bradford on Sunday.

He had 12 tackles and a pair of sacks in two games against the Vikings last season.

Final Week 2 Prediction

Both teams will find it tough to score touchdowns, making field position and turnovers the ultimate key to the outcome.

Rodgers has struggled mightily in prime time games recently (1-4, 77.6 passer rating in last five games), the Vikings offense lacks a threat at QB, and both defenses are strong.

This one will be nip and tuck throughout. An interception in the second half may be the difference that give the Packers some breathing room.

Like last week, it likely comes down to a late defensive stop. With Bradford (or Hill) trying to mount the comeback, I’m betting on the Packers.

Final:  Packers 23, Vikings 16