Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings: Final Thoughts

Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back for a pass as Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) rushes towards him in the first half at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back for a pass as Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) rushes towards him in the first half at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Before the Green Bay Packers take the field against the Minnesota Vikings, as I always do, here are my final thoughts on the upcoming matchup between these division rivals.

Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings: Final Thoughts

– I could say this almost every week, but this game really feels like one where the Green Bay Packers need to lean on the run game. Minnesota is allowing 4.7 yards per rush this season, and Mike Zimmer has done a very good job over the years of slowing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ passing game.

"“You’ve got to do a great job of working on making him see what you want him to see, and then when the ball’s snapped, he’s seeing something else and he’s gotta figure it out as he starts to drop back with the ball,” Andre Patterson said via Sports Illustrated. “So that takes great teamwork between the secondary, the linebackers and the front. … If you look at it, he snaps the ball later on the time clock than any quarterback. He lets it come down to three or four seconds because he’s trying to wait and see it all — see the complete picture. So our guys have to be disciplined to make sure that we don’t give away what we’re trying to do.”"

– This is a Vikings’ secondary that will have Harrison Smith back and possibly Patrick Peterson as well–Minnesota hasn’t officially activated him off IR yet, but they still have the opportunity to.

– AJ Dillon is absolutely ready for the RB1 responsibilities.

"“You hate to say the sky’s the limit and put that type of pressure on a guy, but I definitely think he’s got the ability to be one of the better backs in this league,” RB Coach Ben Sirmans said of Dillon via Forbes. “If that arrow just keeps pointing in the right direction.“For a guy his size that can make the cuts he can make, he’s a lot faster than what people think, and then when he drops his pads he can move people. He’s got good hands. When you combine all those different traits, usually that leads to a guy that’s going to be very productive down the road.”"

– I’m quite excited to see Patrick Taylor–he’s a well-rounded back and a good fit for this offense. Of course, he will see some carries — Dillon will need some snaps off — but I’ll be curious to see how much he is utilized in the passing game. Rodgers spoke highly of his pass-catching abilities early this week.

"“PT can handle a lot,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said via Sports Illustrated. “He’s been with us for a while now, working on the scout team a bunch and now he’s got an opportunity. I think he’s a smart kid. We didn’t worry about anything throwing him in there late in the game, giving him a couple carriers. He’s a tough, hard runner, a good one-cut back. I think he can do a lot in the passing game. He’s got good hands and is a good route runner. So, I think it’s a great opportunity for him. I expect PT to get plenty of playing time and to play well.”"

– No David Bakhtiari again. At this point, my guess is that at the earliest, we see him against Chicago following the Week 13 bye. That means we will see the same OL configuration. Both Lucas Patrick and Royce Newman are coming off very good performances against Seattle, but both have also been very up and down this season.

"“It’s day to day, it’s part of the process, he’s coming off a major injury. We’re trying to put him in the best possible position for when he does return, so that’s he good to go,” LaFleur said Thursday via Packers Wire."

– According to Pro Football Reference, the Vikings rank fifth in pressure rate and 11th in blitz rate.

– He won’t be a focal point by any means, but with Allen Lazard doubtful, we may see some snaps for Juwann Winfree. And with Malik Taylor out, Green Bay will need a new kick returner as well. Two options include Randall Cobb or Patrick Taylor.

– Dominique Dafney will be back after missing last week’s game. He will provide a big boost for this Green Bay Packers’ run game as well as special teams. When healthy, Dafney has seen more snaps than Josiah Deguara.

– Can this Green Bay Packers’ passing game find a rhythm? As I detailed in my 5 Big Questions article, there has been a lot of missed practice time for Rodgers and his receivers, and this is likely a big contributor to the lack of cohesiveness that we’ve seen from the passing game this season.

"“If you trace it back, I mean, shoot, we haven’t really practiced a whole bunch,” LaFleur said via Sports Illustrated. “Basically, the week before Arizona was all walk-through, so it’s not like he was getting a ton of time with these guys, and then we had different receivers the last time he played. And then you’re getting all these guys back [while Rodgers was out with COVID] so, naturally, there was probably a little bit of a dip in terms of from our passing game, but I think it’s everybody.”"

– This Green Bay Packers’ secondary is going to have another very tough test trying to contain Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. The duo has 1,317 receiving yards this season on 144 targets and 11 touchdowns, according to PFF ($$).

"“I see a six-year vet when I watch him play,” Adams said of Jefferson via “He reminds me of, I don’t even know how to, I haven’t seen anybody come in in a while and play like the way that he’s playing right now. He really strikes me as somebody that has it figured out, whatever that means. ‘Cause I wasn’t playing that fast in my first and second year."

– The Packers have been very good against the pass this season, allowing the third-fewest passing yards per game and ranking fourth in explosive pass plays allowed. In part, this is due to Joe Barry’s defense that plays with lightboxes, which allows for an extra defender in coverage. This will help Green Bay against Jefferson and Thielen but will make slowing Dalvin Cook more challenging.

– If the Packers are going to invite Minnesota to run the ball with those lightboxes, I imagine the Vikings will be happy to do just that. The Green Bay interior defensive line has played quite well — especially as of late — but their success is going to be vital to slowing Minnesota’s offense.

– Let’s keep seeing TJ Slaton get more playing time. He has been a force the last two games. De’Vondre Campbell is also going to play a huge role in slowing Cook.

– Vikings’ center Garrett Bradbury should be back, but he has struggled this season, allowing the fourth-most pressures and being called for the fourth-most penalties among centers this season, per PFF. This could be a big day for Kenny Clark.

– According to ESPN’s pass-block win rate metric, the Minnesota OL ranks 25th. Pressuring Kirk Cousins is one major way to provide the secondary with some help.

– I still can’t believe Rashan Gary is listed as questionable and could play on Sunday. He is top-5 in both pressures and QB hits among edge rushers–if he can’t go, that will be a major loss for this defense. If he does play, I won’t be surprised to see him on a pitch count.

"“I don’t know Rashan’s body, but I know his will and his mind-set,” fellow outside linebacker Preston Smith said via Sports Illustrated. “He wants to do everything he can to get out on that field Sunday, and I’m pretty sure he’s been having a great rehab and great recovery, and he’s been feeling better each and every day. It’s a personal decision he has to make, and I would love to have him out there. I know his energy and his ability, and it would be great to have him out there alongside me and to have that guy on the defense.”"

– Like Patrick Taylor, Tipa Galeai will have the opportunity to contribute. How much he plays will be dependent upon Gary’s health, but I would expect that he sees some snaps on third downs or in obvious passing situations.

– The Green Bay Packers’ defense is one of the best at forcing turnovers, while Minnesota ranks first in fewest giveaways this season with only six. As always, the turnover battle will be crucial.

– While Jefferson, Thielen, and Cook will draw much of the attention — and understandably so — tight end Tyler Conklin has 49 targets, 353 receiving yards, and three touchdowns this season.

– Dede Westbrook on punt returns and Kene Nwangwu on kick returns could pose some real challenges for the Green Bay Packers special teams unit. Also, let’s hope the field goal unit can figure it out this week as well.

"“We are working towards that, and we will get that done,” said Maurice Drayton via “We’re going to get it fixed. Committed to it. Have to. Mason Crosby deserves better. OK? I owe him. We owe him. We’re going to make it happen.”"

– Just like Week 7 of last season, this feels like a game that Minnesota will want to turn into a low possession contest by running the ball and leaning heavily on Cook.

– Don’t let their 4-5 record fool you; this is a Minnesota team that has been in on every game this season. This will be a tough test for Green Bay.

Prediction: Packers 20 – Vikings 17