Sunday Night Football will bring us what is, essentially, an elimination game in the NFC playoff race, as our Minnesota Vikings will play host to the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Both of these teams come into the game at 7-8, and a loss will pretty much end the season for one of these teams. The winner won’t have a great chance at the playoffs, either, but it will be a much better chance than the loser has.
As we do every week, we’ve taken some time to exchange some questions with the SB Nation site for this week’s Vikings opponent. That means another opportunity to speak with the folks from Acme Packing Company, SB Nation’s home for everything relating to the Packers. I’ve exchanged questions with Kris Burke of APC this week, and his answers to the questions I sent him are below. Once he posts my answers to his questions, I’ll have them up over here on our side.
1) The big story for the Packers this week has been the suspension of cornerback Jaire Alexander for some fairly unusual behavior leading up to last week’s coin toss. Has this been a season-long thing with Alexander or is this sort of a one-off?
Jaire has always been different. He’s been a talker but he’s always backed it up with stellar play which in my few is perfectly fine. Walk the walk and talk the talk and all that. I think the Packers were fine with that too.
This year has been a little different. He’s been hurt and when he’s been on the field, he hasn’t been playing to his standard. When that’s the case, the behavioral stuff is viewed in a different light.
I’d hope this is a one-off but what happens next week will bear watching along with the offseason. I can’t see him being traded but I have a feeling this may not be over. We will have to just wait it out.
With Rodgers gone, Packers fans were hoping for just a normal and quiet offseason for once.
Guess we can’t have nice things.
2) Even with Alexander, the Green Bay defense has had its struggles this season, which seems strange because they look like a pretty talented unit on paper. Why has the Packers’ defense had so many issues?
Joe Barry. Enough said.
Unwilling or unable to adapt when his game plan goes awry (frequently), he is not built to succeed in the NFL.
The Packers have dumped a ludicrous amount of draft stock into that group and they’re one of the worst groups in the league. Brian Gutekunst deserves a little blame for missing on some picks, Barry is deservedly getting the brunt of the blame. He’s all but gone at the end of the season and he’d probably be gone now if the Packers weren’t still in playoff contention.
3) On the offensive side, Jordan Love has been a bit of a rollercoaster. He’s had some really good games and he’s thrown in some clunkers as well. Has he done enough to convince you that he’s the long-term answer at quarterback in Green Bay?
Yes, but not at huge price obviously.
He’s got a young group around him (unlike Rodgers who had veterans in 2008 at receiver) and his defense has been an albatross. Yet Love remains calm, cool, and collected and has really improved over the second half of the season. He’s not lighting the world on fire but he’s setting himself up for a huge jump next year.
I’m not saying the Packers have hit a third straight home run yet but he’s getting better. He’s shown flashes and those are starting to show more consistently.
4) Give us one “under the radar” player on each side of the ball for the Packers that you think could play a major role on Sunday night.
Offensively: Bo Melton. He had a sneaky good game against Carolina and has been earning Love’s trust as Christian Watson and Dontayvion Wicks continue to recover from injury. With both looking doubtful at best for Sunday night, Melton is set to see the field more often once again.
Defensively: Preston Smith. He’s sort of flown under the radar with the emergence of Rashan Gary but he had 1.5 sacks last week and has been solid in a very quiet way. Minnesota should have to account for 52 and 91 Sunday night.
5) Our friends at the DraftKings Sportsbook have made the Vikings a very small favorite in their home finale. How do you see this one playing out? Which of these teams will keep their (relatively) slim playoff chances alive on Sunday night?
With no Alexander and an incompetent defensive coordinator, I’d be shocked if Justin Jefferson doesn’t go off in this one even with a rookie throwing the ball.
Minnesota’s defense is very good and will make things tough on Jordan Love and the offense but Love is playing much better than he was during the first game.
He thumped the Lions in his second matchup against them but the Green Bay defense actually looked acceptable then.
I’d say Vikings win 28-24.
Thanks to Kris for taking the time to sit down and answer our questions for this week!