Well, it’s time for another road game, this time travelling to Minnesota to try to avenge that pesky tie (that would have been a win were it not for a terrible fluffing the passer call or a missed field goal at the end of regulation).
There’s a lot of storylines to examine, none of them very positive.
They Aren’t Who We Thought They Were
The Vikings entered the season looking like a team with a top defense and an offense that was going to get upgrades at QB and RB to go with their big play-making receivers. A team that made it to the doorstep of the NFCCG, they looked like a Super Bowl favorite in the offseason.
After watching their poor QB play and general ineptitude against the Bears, they don’t even look like a team with any business talking about a wild card.
On the flip side, the Packers are in the same boat… except they have a worse record.
Neither of these teams are playing anywhere near where we all expected them to play this year, making this “premium” primtime divisional matchup a Toilet Bowl of sorts.
No amount of mind-boggling terrible play or stupendous plays will surprise me from either team in this game.
Whats’ going on the in Green Bay locker room? We know headaches like Damarious Randall and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix have been shipped out of town, but has that solved all the problems?
Judging by Aaron Rodgers’s on-field body language, he’s none too pleased with anything. Is that having an impact on his play?
I think it is.
Couple that with the fact that the entire NFL (me included) seems to believe McCarthy’s dismissal is a foregone conculsion and you have a recipe for apathy. The team has not seemed interested in finishing games in the 4th quarter lately and that doesn’t bode well for a tough road trip.
If the Packers want to keep draining the playclock to 0 every down, it’s going to be tough to keep up. I’d expect a lot of wasted timeouts in the noisy dome.
Who Will Step Up?
With Mike Daniels out and MoWil long gone to IR, the defensive line is looking relaly thin. On the positive side, Kenny Clark is a monster stud. Dean Lowry is solid, but Montravius Adams, who looks most likely to pick up extra snaps, has not yet shown much to inspire confidence that he can replace Mike Daniels’s production.
And since Montravius Adams was the only backup at either defensive end slot, he and Lowry don’t even have a backup. Tyler Lancaster, who’s seen 56 snaps all year, may have to pitch in on utility duty. Maybe Nick Perry can play some end… if he plays… ugh. The defensive line, which was once the strength of the team, is looking weaker by the week.
At linebacker, with CM3 showing his age, and Perry banged up, Kyler Fackrell of all people has stepped up – the Packers need to find a Fackrell for the defensive line.
At receiver, Rodgers only had three targets he trusted in Adams, Cobb, and Allison. Allison is out, Cobb may be out, and the guy Rodgers has been working on building a rapport with (Jimmy Graham) is dealing with a broken thumb.
MVS has been a nice find at receiver, but he’s had some rookie moments and doesn’t totally have 12’s trust. EQ has shown phenomenal hands, but misses his route adjustment about once per quarter. That leaves… J’Mon Moore… Jake Kumerow…
Disarray like this in the lineup, coupled with the locker room mood described above, can make things really tough. Look for a shuffled defensive line to have a hard time containing the run game and with inexperienced receivers playing in a loud venue, the last-second route adjustments that our uarterback seems so fond of will be tough. I can see a lot of airballs and misccomminications coming in the passing game.
Aaron Jones’s Big Test
Aaron Jones is a stud. He’s actually becoming the most dangerous weapon on the team. The Seahawks knew that and they gameplanned to stop him. It was pretty effective and I expect the Vikings to do the same.
Minnesota has a darn good defensive backfield and the Packers passing attack has been limp lately. Signs point to Minnesota game-planning around Jones.
The question is, how will he handle it?
He’s a freak, but this is a fast defense playing on a fast track, amped up for a home game in a dome in prime time. I want to believe that he comes through with a seasson-saving performance, something like Eddie Lacy in Dalls circa 2013, but I just don’t see it. As good as he is, he can’t carry this team under these circumstances.
Question of the Week
A lot of has been made of Jake Kumerow’s return from IR this week and our Question of the Week delves into that. Click our tweet and respond with your answer:
Question of the Week:
How many snaps will Jake Kumerow get on offense against the Vikings?
— Packers FTW (@PackersForTheWn) November 23, 2018
J’Mon Moore doubles his output for the season
Rodgers makes a lot of frustrated motions at receivers when a play doesn’t go right
Aaron Jones is kept in relative check, similar to what Seattle did against him
Montravius Adams shows that he’s not ready for prime time
Kyler Fackrell comes up with another sack
Jaire Alexander comes up with a pick of Kirk Cousins, like the two he should have had the last time he faced him
Special Teams does something bone-headed, in alignment with the rest of the season
Packers 23, Vikings 30
These two teams will slap at each other, randomly implode drives, and make horrendous mistakes in all phases. At the end of the day, it’s in Minnesota and home field advantage will prove far more valuable than the few extra days of rest the Packers got this week.
The funny thing is that we still might be in the running for a wild card after this. We won’t get it, but the mathematical hope will still be there… it’s just kind of funny, actually.