That’s My Quarterback, Man
Aaron Rodgers has officially warmed up. It wasn’t just his play, it was his attitude, his swagger, the way he was pumped up. He is acting a little different this year, less subdued, more aggressive – he wants to win and he’s leading the NFL in passing touchdowns and all around amazingness. And in that corner… QB Case Keenum looks ready to make another start. Teddy Bridgewater (who I think is overrated) still isn’t ready and Sam Bradford (who I think is underrated) couldn’t finish the Bears game trying to return from his knee injury and looks destined to sit another week. So it’s Aaron Rodgers against Case Keenum. I don’t care how big the gap is between the defenses, that should be game, set, match right there.
That’s My Running Back, Man
With TyMo down with broken ribs (though he practiced with a flak jacket this week), shooting star Aaron Jones looks to build off his big game in Dallas. And in that corner, rookie sparkplug Dalvin Cook is out for the year, giving way to career backup Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon has actually been a decent role player his whole career and in his start against the Bears, ran for 95 yards on 16 carries with a score. Not bad, but it was still against the Bears. This should be another interesting matchup to watch, but if the Packers can stack the box (since the Vikings are starting Case Keenum), I can’t see McKinnon revving up, especially after what the front seven did to Zeke in the first half last week.
Kevin King is CB1. Finally, it looks like we’ve found a CB1. So of course he gets hurt. Morgan Burnett? Hurt. Davon House? Hurt. It’s looking like 2016, but this time we have some depth. This might be a good week to face a 3rd string QB. Damarious Randall could be the wild card. He had some nice plays against Dallas and if he build on that with some more confidence-building plays in Minnesota, it could be the turning point in his season. Josh Hawkins can get some valuable experience against a B-league passing attack, too.
The numbers are bad, but really, the offense seems to have adapted to the musical chairs flipping around. I want to see Bakhtiari play just so we can get six different tackle combinations in the first 6 games. Then, of course, I’d like to see it stay the same for 14 more games.
Exorcise The Demon
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have really washed the Dallas taste out of their mouths that was left over from the late 90’s. Minnesota is always a tough road game and last year’s embarassment in the sh!tty housewarming party must be weighing on their minds. At the same time, it must give the Vikings some confidence too – that was Bradford’s first start and they lost AP, but still made the Packers look stupid in prime time. Let’s get this one back.
The fast track against a less-than-elite QB gives CM3 a big game. Nick Perry’s bull rush is great, but it’s Clay’s speed off the edge that will get a boost on turf. Mike Daniels will also get a boost off the snap. Blake Martinez will probably get extended time with Joe Thomas hurting and I expect to see him single handedly keeping McKinnon in check – he’s plaing very loose and instinctive right now. Speaking of instinctive, Aaron Jones should have a solid day against a tough defense – he won’t put up 125, but he’ll keep the balance in play to let the other Aaron do his thing (I wrote more about AJ here, so check it out). This will be harder than it seems at first glance because road dome division games are hard games no matter what, but the Packers are super hot, playing confidence, and overall just better than the Vikings (due in large part to the discrepancy at QB). Rodgers doesn’t get big yards, but he tosses a couple touchdowns, the secondary comes up with another pick, and the defense gets a 4th quarter stop to end the game.
Packers 20, Vikings 17