This is a little later in the week than we normally post this, and I apologize for that, but it’s now time to call your shots for tonight’s contest at U.S. Bank Stadium between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.
As usual, we have our weekly widget from The Crowd’s Line for your prediction purposes.
Popular opinion seems to have really shifted against the purple for this week’s contest. Apparently the Vikings having issues defeating an AFC South opponent on the road was somehow less impressive than the Packers having issues. . .defeating an AFC South opponent on the road. Then again, the Vikings failed to score on offense last week in Tennessee, so it’s kind of understandable.
The key to this one for Minnesota is to get things opened up offensively. It sure sounds like this is going to be the Vikings’ debut for Sam Bradford at quarterback. . .a development that Green Bay is reportedly not too happy about. As capably as Shaun Hill performed last week in Tennessee, the truth is that there are probably quite a few things in Minnesota’s offense that Bradford can do that Hill simply can’t, the primary one being forcing the defense to not have eight and nine defenders “in the box” to focus on Adrian Peterson on every play. The Packers are going to be without Sam Shields, their top cornerback, and I think that Bradford is going to be able to find a way to take advantage of that. The primary beneficiaries of that would appear to be the two players that had solid days catching the ball in Tennessee, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and tight end Kyle Rudolph.
When Minnesota is on defense, the key is going to be keeping Aaron Rodgers from using his improv skills to extend plays and wait for the defense to break down. They did that in last year’s regular season finale and came away with a win. They did not do that in the first matchup between these two teams, and though Rodgers failed to complete 50% of his passes that week, he made enough big plays outside of the pocket to give his team a comfortable win.
The Vikings also can’t let the big moment get to them. In last year’s game at TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings appeared to be pretty amped up and the result was a lot of missed assignments and allowing the Packers to make those big plays that ultimately made the difference. Opening a brand new home in prime time against your biggest rival is a pretty big stage, and Minnesota needs to prepare themselves accordingly and not get wrapped up in their emotions.
Over the years, Mike Zimmer-coached teams have had a pretty decent level of success against Rodgers and the Packers, and I think we’re going to see that continue again this evening. The question is whether the Vikings’ offense is going to be able to do enough to open their new home with a win. I think they will.
Give me Vikings 23, Packers 20 to send the Vikings to 2-0 and into a big matchup with the defending NFC champions next weekend in Charlotte.
That’s what I have. . .WHO YA GOT, everybody?