Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings Preview: What to Watch for

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 14: Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings at SoFi Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 14: Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings at SoFi Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

This week, the Green Bay Packers (8-2) are back on the road, taking on the divisional rival, the Minnesota Vikings (4-5), at US Bank Stadium.

Minnesota comes into this week on the fringe of playoff hopes; a win this week goes a long way for their hopes, while a loss could all but end their chances.

The Packers enter this week with a franchise-record seven-game winning streak in toad division games, which is tied in the entire NFL with Kansas City and Tennessee.

Let’s look at three things to watch for on Sunday when the Green Bay Packers take on the Minnesota Vikings.

Another big test for the Packers’ secondary. 

Last week against the Seattle Seahawks, the Packers young secondary kept the dynamic duo of Tyler Lockett and D.K Metcalf to a combined 52 yards on only five receptions.

This week presents another tough test, facing another terrific duo in second-year stud Justin Jefferson and veteran Adam Theilen.

According to Pro Football Focus, Minnesota currently sits atop the NFL in overall passing grade while Kirk Cousins is quietly having a great year thus far, completing seventy-six perfect of his passes, averaging nine yards per attempt.

Watch how this Packers defense, most notably the secondary, can defend the dynamic receiving duo in Minnesota and how it affects the run defense.

Can the Packers defense apply pressure to Kirk Cousins?

Over the last three weeks, this surging Packers defense has held elite talent at the quarterback position to a minimum of thirty-four points combined with four interceptions.

No matter who the quarterback is, getting pressure in the pocket is almost always the key to success on the defensive side of the ball.

This week, it’s no different. Can this Packers pass rush get to him?

Unfortunately, last week turned out to be costly for the Packers’ pass rushers, losing Whitney Mercilus to a season-ending biceps injury, and stand-out edge rusher Rashan Gary sustained a hyperextended elbow injury.

Watch for Dean Lowry, who is having his best season as a professional, and Kenny Clark to get pressure through the interior of the Vikings offensive line, which may be the weakest link of their passing protection.

Like I mentioned above, if Kirk Cousins has time to throw, he can easily pick any defense apart, like he has all year to opposing defenses.

With multiple crucial injuries, can the Green Bay Packers pass-rush maintain the level of success that they have had all season? It’s something to keep an eye on.

Can the Packer’s offensive line protect Aaron Rodgers and help spring this offense?

This isn’t a secret–the Packers are in need of all-pro left tackle David Bakhtiari to make a return.

That likely will not happen anytime soon, as Packers head coach Matt LeFleur mentioned Thursday they are “sure as heck hopeful” he can return at “some point this season.”

With that being said, can this protection unit protect Rodgers and help get this offense going in the right direction?

The offense as a whole has been stagnant as of late–quarterback Aaron Rodgers has not practiced in weeks, and the protection and run blocking have been below standard in Green Bay.

The Vikings have an above-average offense, and the Packers will have to produce points to stay in this game.

Watch for this offensive line to set the tempo early and often in this game. Running back AJ Dillon will get the bulk of the carries while Aaron Jones nurses his injured knee this week. If the unit is to help keep Rodgers upright, the offense could finally get going.

Plain and simple, this game will be won or lost in the trenches, as most games are.

The Bottom Line

The Packers are undefeated in noon games this season (3-0), which continues this week in Minnesota. It won’t be easy; Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is arguably the best in the league and will severely challenge the Packers’ defense.

If I had to guess, this game will be close. The last 24 of the 37 regular-season meetings between these two teams have been decided by 7 points or less.

The recipe for a Green Bay Packers win is similar to last week–the Vikings desperately need a win. Keep the explosive plays to a minimum, establish the run early and win the turnover battle.