We’re really into the thick of it now, buckle up! By now, we all know that Kirk Cousins has never won on Monday Night Football and the Packers have never won at Bird Murder Stadium, but here’s the three big factors that can turn the game:
Nothing To Lose
The Vikings have already wrapped up a playoff spot and they can’t really improve their position unless the Packers somehow lose to Detroit and their 4th string QB next week. They have nothing to play for, but it also means they have nothing to lose. This is a true division rivalry between teams and fans that don’t like each other and the Vikings have a coach with a history of success against Aaron Rodgers – they don’t care about seeding, they just want to beat the Packers. With nothing to lose and their best offensive weapon already ruled out, they can afford to just go bombs away in all aspects of the game. Throw deep every play on offense. Blitz everyone on defense. A couple big plays in front of a raucous home crowd fueled by fake cheering pumped through speakers could swing the momentum early, which – given how the Packers have played this year – could turn the game into a massacre.
The Packers may be the healthiest they’ve ever been in week 16, not just in terms of players on IR, but in terms of how the guys playing don’t seem particularly banged up. The same is true for the Vikings with the exception of Dalvin Cook. The Vikings have a strong stable of running backs, though, and Cook may not be as big of a factor as some think to the overall success of the team. Overall health and being in Week 16 with both teams in the playoffs should make this one of the most exciting matchups between these teams in a while – which is saying a lot.
It’s still a distinct possibility that these teams meet in the playoffs. Will that make one of these teams hold back some of their “good stuff,” as Matt LaFleur joked? If one team did, I would guess it would be the Packers. However, with a promise to use guys like Jake Kumerow more, maybe we’ll get some pleasant surprises. We’ll see.
For more coverage of this week’s game, check out: Pregame Predictions: Packers at Vikings – 2019 Week 16