Green Bay Packers at Vikings: Getting to Know the Opponent

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 15: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings and Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers shakes hands after the game at Lambeau Field on September 15, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 15: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings and Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers shakes hands after the game at Lambeau Field on September 15, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Before the Green Bay Packers take the field, here are five questions answered by a Vikings’ writer, to help you get familiar with the Week 1 opponent.

For every Green Bay Packers’ game in 2019, I would work with a writer of the opposing team as each of us would answer five questions to help provide the fans with some insight into the opponent. So, of course, we are dialing it up again for 2020.

While the Minnesota Vikings aren’t exactly an uncommon opponent to Packer fans, they did have quite a bit of roster turnover this offseason, making this a great opportunity to get an early look at this revamped divisional foe.

Bringing his Viking expertise to Dairyland Express this week is Adam Carlson, site editor of The Viking Age, where they cover anything and everything Minnesota Vikings. As I mentioned above, Adam answered five of my questions, to which I’ll give my thoughts on, and I answered five of Adams’ questions about the Green Bay Packers. So be sure to check that out over at The Viking Age as well.

1. It’s more challenging this year without preseason games, but what are your overall thoughts about this Vikings team after camp?

For the most part, this should be a similar Vikings team to the one that took the field last year. Michael Pierce sitting out the 2020 NFL season will hurt a defensive line that was looking to be better against the run. However, expectations should still be very high for the Minnesota Vikings this year.

Takeaway: I too expect the Vikings to compete for the NFC North title and a playoff spot this year. However, they have a number of questions to answer. With no Linval Joseph and Michael Pierce opting out, their run defense may be in trouble. On top of that, they have a young secondary, no Stefon Diggs, and an offensive line that struggled in 2019 against the Packers’ stout pass-rush.

Now, this isn’t to say that the Green Bay Packers will blow them out, as I said, the Vikings are still playoff contenders. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if they took a step back this season.

2. The Vikings had a lot of roster turnover this offseason, do you see that playing a factor early on in the season, especially with less practice time?

There will be some players that are missed this year. Stefon Diggs was a playmaker that will be hard to replace while Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander were underappreciated in Minnesota. Thankfully, they have two cornerbacks with some experience who have flashed at times to take over and there are some high draft picks behind them in case they stumble.

Takeaway: Not just for the Vikings, but for every team that is expecting major contributions from rookies or young players, I’ll be surprised if this offseason doesn’t lead to a slow start. There were no OTAs, no mini-camps, no preseason games, and just less time on the practice field and in the building overall. Expectations for rookies should be tempered, at least early on.

3. Who is a player or two that could make an impact that Packer fans may not be as familiar with?

On offense, Bisi Johnson will be stepping into a starting role as a wide receiver and hopefully take advantage of one-on-one matchups since Adam Thielen is bound to draw the most attention from defensive backs. Bisi has flashed in previous games, but this will be his first real opportunity to shine in a big role.

On defense, Holton Hill is another player who will be a starter for the first time in his career. A troubled free agent who has faced a few suspensions due to substance violations, he can be an excellent cornerback when available. If he can stay out of trouble, odds are that he will shine in his new rule.

Takeaway: Olabisi Johnson was a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and saw a decent amount of action as a rookie. He would appear in all 16 games, making six starts, and hauling in 31 receptions on 45 targets for 294 yards and three touchdowns. As Adam said, with no Diggs, Johnson’s role is going to increase.

Meanwhile, in Holton Hill’s two-year career, he has allowed a completion rate of 56.1 percent on 41 targets, while giving up two touchdowns and coming away with an interception. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82.7 when targeting Hill, and he along with the rest of the Minnesota secondary are going to have their hands full with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.

4. What is the strength and also the weakness of this Vikings team?

The main strength of the Vikings will be the play-action offense. The threat of Dalvin Cook behind what appears to be a strong run-blocking offense line should be a formula for success. Kirk Cousins makes some of his best throws off play-action and Minnesota should continue to make that their bread and butter in 2020.

One place this Vikings team could really struggle is in run defense. New defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is more of a pass rusher than edge defender and defensive tackles Jaleel Johnson and Shamar Stephen will be forced to step up if they want to keep the purple and gold from being run all over every week.

Takeaway: Slowing Dalvin Cook and putting the ball in the hands of Cousins’ and this Vikings’ offensive line is going to be a major key for this Packer defense. Yes, Minnesota was without Cook in Week 16 last season, but that game is a prime example of how much this Viking offense can struggle when they don’t have the run to lean on.

When it comes to the Viking run-defense, last season Aaron Jones had his way, totaling 270 rushing yards in their two games at nearly six yards per carry. It appears that another big game could be in store for Jones.

5. What is your Week 1 prediction?

I can’t bet against the Vikings at home with most of their stars from last year returning. While I respect the Packers and believe they have a strong team with a great pass rush, Minnesota should be able to take care of business, but it will be tough to know how anything will go with so little information acquired due to the lack of preseason and open training camps. This should be a very competitive game between the two teams that should compete for the NFC North crown this year, but I have the Vikings winning this one 27-24.

3 Reasons Why the Packers Will Beat the Vikings. dark. Next

Takeaway: I’m going to withhold my prediction for the time being, since on Saturday at Dairyland Express, we will be making our weekly predictions. However, based on my takeaways, I’m guessing you can figure out which team I’m picking.