Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to get through this thing called football. . .
Yes, it’s the first part of this year’s Border Battle between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. In a nice twist, the Vikings won’t be visiting Lambeau in late December again this season, as we’ll be seeing the first matchup in September in Wisconsin between these two teams in a decade. Both of these teams enter this game 1-0, and the winner will get an early leg up in the race for the 2018 NFC North title.
As was the case last week, we’ll be having a new Open Thread at the start of each quarter, so keep your eye out for those. For now, however, here’s everything you need to know about today’s contest.
Time: Sunday, 16 September, noon Central time
Location: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Television coverage: KMSP-9 in the Twin Cities, plus a bunch of other channels across the country that you can see right here, or on DirecTV Channel 711.
Radio coverage: Vikings Radio Network, Sirius Channel 99, XM Channel 225 (reminder: the XM broadcast is the Packers radio feed)
Line: Off the board due to injuries (well, one injury, anyway)
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Green Bay 20
1) Get after whoever Green Bay starts at quarterback - Whether Aaron Rodgers suits up for the Packers in this one or Green Bay has to start DeShone Kizer behind center, the Vikings need to use their strength up front to get after the opposing quarterback. The Packers’ top pass-catching option, Davante Adams, is hobbled coming into this one as well, and Green Bay’s other receivers will likely have trouble getting open against the Minnesota secondary. Getting pressure could force some mistakes that the Vikings can take advantage of.
2) Continue the strong offensive line play - The Vikings looked fairly solid up front last week, and that’s a trend that needs to continue. They need to be better in opening holes for Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, but for the most part they looked solid in pass protection, and they’re going to have to hold up again to keep Kirk Cousins upright during this contest. If the Vikings can keep Cousins clean, there are plays out there to be made.
3) Win the turnover battle - While it’s not likely that the Vikings are going to force four turnovers again this week (if Rodgers starts, in any case), they need to continue to be careful with the football. They had one turnover last week on a Cook fumble, and those are the sorts of mistakes that they need to minimize. If they don’t give the Packers short fields and extra opportunities, this is a winnable football game regardless of who the Packers start at quarterback.
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Enjoy the game, ladies and gentlemen!