The season is finally upon us! I’m not sure if you feel similar, but this is the least excited I can remember being about football in my entire life. The best feeling I’ve had was hearing the FOX music on a promo, but something about the stadiums being empty, or nowhere near capacity just complexes me. Anyway, onto week 1!
The Vikings have changed a bit since their random (and quite unforeseen) playoff victory last year. They’ve moved on from Stefon Diggs (traded to Buf) and drafted Justin Jefferson (LSU), as well as saw Everson Griffen’s services vacate US Bank Stadium, but traded for Yannick Ngakoue (from Jax). Minnesota got younger with both of those moves, and while Diggs is very productive, when paying your QB premium $, you expect/need him to make-up for lack of receiving “talent.”
Ngakoue could present a problem for the Packers’ OL. Last year, Bryan Bulaga had his best season in a very solid career. He’s gone. However, the Packers have caught a major break with (arguably) Minnesota’s best player – Danielle Hunter #99 – being placed on IR, Green Bay only needs to worry about the newcomer – Yannick Ngakoue #91. Green Bay’s new RT- Billy Turner #77 (who was the worst starter for the Packers’ stellar OL in 2019) may be tasked with keeping Rodgers upright…that is if Turner clears his injury and is ready by kickoff.
Advantage? I believe the Packers’ offense (now in the 2nd year of LaFleur’s system) has the advantage over Minnesota’s defense. One of their most-impressive wins in 2019 came on Monday Night Football in Minneapolis to seal the division by winning 23-10. Winning on the road in Minnesota, as the Packers, is about a tough-a-place to play as anywhere. It’s always loud and they’re geared up like it’s the Super Bowl (because it is for them), and the Packers dominated in all 3-phases for all 4 quarters of that game. There’s no reason to think this won’t be like that atmosphere again…oh, except there won’t be ANY fans in attendance.
As for the Packers’ D v Vikings’ O? I think that’s a stale-mate. The Packers front should be able to get pressure on Cousins like last year, especially if 2019 1st round pick (Rashan Gary #52) takes a much-needed jump. Minnesota’s equalizer is HB Dalvin Cook #33. The only thing to slow him down are injuries. He’s as dynamic, if not more so, than Aaron Jones and is a true natural runner of the football. If Green Bay can force Cousins to beat them, I believe it’ll be 3 wins in a row for the Green & Gold. If it’s Dalvin Cook’s game…not so much.