Teddy Bridgewater almost single handedly rejuvenated the Vikings 2014 season with a scintillating performance against he Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He's nursing a bad ankle and heading into one of the toughest places to play, but all indications are he'll start in his first game ever against an NFC North opponent.
This is a big game for a couple reasons. For one, it's a division game, and it's on the road. Since 2010, the Vikings have gone 1-10-1 on the road in the division, with the lone win coming against the Lions in 2012. Secondly, it's the Packers, who have pretty much owned the Vikings since 2010. Since Favre's Revenge Year of 2009, the Vikings have beaten Green Bay once, the last game of the 2012 season, and then promptly lost to them in the wildcard playoff game the following week. Finally, the Vikings have a shot to go above .500 at 3-2, something they've only accomplished three times in the last 10 years going back to 2005 (2006, 2009, 2012).
I write all that bleak information above to say that this is an opportunity to change The Narrative for the Vikings, and start reversing the suck we've had to deal with, for the most part, for 15 years. How is that going to happen?*
*I ask that question with the assumption Tedy Bridgewater will play. If he doesn't, just disregard all of this, because It's gonna be ugly...
Let Teddy be Teddy: We saw the future, and he is now. Look, anyone who thinks Bridgewater can't be a franchise QB is fooling themselves. I agreed with the Vikings decision to bring him along slowly and go with Matt Cassel to start the season, but yeah, after 317 yards passing and no turnovers against Atlanta, there's no need for training wheels. We've seen that great quarterbacks make the whole team good, so put the game in Teddy's hands. I'll take those odds and roll the dice.
Withstand the initial wave: This is a big rivalry game, on national TV, and the crowd is going to be fired up. It's going to be crucial for the Vikings to do one of two things: either seize the momentum early and take the crowd out of it, or withstand the first wave of momentum without letting the game get out of hand. It happened against the Patriots, and the Vikings couldn't get out of their own way. But against the Saints, they withstood the onslaught, got the ship righted, and got back into the game. I think it will be huge for the Vikings to get on the board first
Let Teddy be Teddy, but set him up for success: Green Bay has a top five secondary, but the worst rush defense in the NFL through four games. THAT'S BECAUSE LETROY GUION IS THEIR STARTING NOSE TACKLE SON. The Vikings should be able to run the ball effectively against Green Bay, and this week the Vikings should be able to use the run to set up the pass. And for as good as Green Bay's secondary is statistically, in their two losses, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford had success. The other two games were the Jets (Genolol Smith) and Bad Jay Cutler, so if Teddy can avoid the turnover the Vikings are going to have success through the air. Once the Vikings establish a solid running game, Green Bay will start cheating up into the box, and then it's time for Teddy do distribute some dimes on a frozen rope.
Be prepared to outscore Green Bay: The reason I say unleash Teddy is because Aaron Rodgers just kills the Vikings. Even in the rare instance Minnesota beats him, he still has a good game, and I would expect nothing less on Thursday. As improved as the Vikings defense is so far, they're still bad at getting off the field on third down, and the Packers seemed to find their offense Sunday in Chicago. Green Bay's line is battered, so they should be able to control the line of scrimmage, but that also means Green Bay probably won't emphasize the run, unless they're effective early. That means they're going to put the game in Rodgers' hands to win or lose. Yeah, after last week, I think Teddy Bridgewater can go throw for throw with Aaron Rodgers. There, I said it.
It's going to come down to special teams: This is Green Bay. It's going to be a tough, close game and I think it's going to come down to a field goal. If that's the case, I like Blair Walsh and the good guys in this one, although Mason Crosby has rebounded from his 2012 slump and gotten back on track both last year and in 2014, hitting on five of six field goals.
I know a lot of folks are worried about this game...and yeah, I am too. But I think back to a nationally televised game where a Vikings rookie torched Green Bay and became a household name. The year was 1998 and the rookie was Randy Moss. I think Teddy Bridgewater is going to have his 'Randy Moss Moment' on Thursday, and by Friday morning he's going to be a household name everywhere in the NFL.
Skol Vikings. Beat the Packers.