Is Pack’s Defense Ready For an Encore?

Here comes Border Battle #118 with the Packers and Vikings feeling pretty good about themselves after opening week wins. But we don’t really know what to believe. Is the Pack’s defense going to be that dominant? Is the offense going to take a while to figure things out? Are the Vikings going to be that strong in all three areas?

Week two won’t provide any solid answers, but the additional data will start to give us an idea what these two teams are all about. The Pack gets the advantage of an additional three days to rest up and prepare, but they won’t be bringing in the healthier team. Thursday’s injury report brought the unwelcome news that David Bakhtiari missed practice with a back injury and Jaire Alexander was suddenly limited with a knee.

Needless to say, if those two guys are limited or absent, the Packers will be in tough shape against a Vikings team that has had their number the last two seasons. Vikings fans love to throw out that it’s been 900+ days since the Pack has beaten them. Of course we all remember the game at Lambeau last season when Clay Matthews crushed Kirk Cousins, causing an interception that should have been the dagger, until the errant flag was thrown nullifying the play. Over the past nine meetings the teams are 4-4-1 and the last time I checked, Matt LaFleur is undefeated against the Purple.

All kidding aside, I expect both defenses to flex their muscles in this matchup. The prevailing question outside of Wisconsin this week (and maybe inside) is whether the defense has really turned a corner and is as good as it appeared in Chicago.

Most will point to Mitch Trubisky and say that the dude his hot garbage, so what did they really prove. The fact is, no one was saying the Bears would be contenders this season if only they had a QB. Yes, he appears to have limitations, and his development will go a long way in determining how far the Bears go, but he led the ninth ranked offense in just his first year in the system in 2018 and most expect this offense to be very good.

For the first time in forever, the Packers appear to have dominant players at all three levels, with Kenny Clark up front, Za’Darius Smith (and maybe Preston Smith and Blake Martinez) at linebacker and Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos (and maybe Darnell Savage) on the back end. They’re faster, tougher and more athletic than recent Packer defenses and appear to have a firm grasp pf Mike Pettine’s system.

Task number one will be to contain the electric Dalvin Cook, who picked up on Sunday where he left off in the preseason. The Packers will need to be disciplined in their gaps and they’ll need to tackle as well as they did against the Bears. It’s safe to say Kevin Stefanski won’t have his QB drop back to pass on 80% of the offensive plays, as Nagy did last week. This Packers team is equipped to slow Cook down, which would keep Cousins from burning the defense with play action, where he is at his most dangerous.

The Vike’s dynamic receiver duo has been very productive against the Pack the past couple of seasons, but Green Bay has invested heavily in the secondary and I’m very interested to see how they do on Sunday. I’d expect the Vikes’ tight ends to be a bigger part of the game plan than they were in game one.

The interior of the Vikings offensive line was shaky against the Falcons, with Grady Jarrett abusing rookie center Garrett Bradbury and left guard Pat Elflein struggling as well. Kenny Clark is going to be a problem and I expect the Vikings to do their damage with Cooks bouncing plays outside.

The big question mark for me about this Packer team right now is the offense, which was kept in mothballs in the preseason and was extremely slow to get going in Chicago. Part of that was the defense, the stadium, the big stage. But Aaron Rodgers has talked a lot this week about being quicker to the line, quicker to get plays off. Yes, everyone is learning the new offense, but it’s time to kick off the rust and move the football. Aaron Jones has to be productive in this game, the guards have to play a whole lot better than they did in game one, and the other receivers have to step up, if the Vikes put a blanket on Davante Adams.

I expect LaFleur to move Adams all over the field, to keep Xavier Rhodes from shadowing him all afternoon. Adams has been productive against Rhodes in the past, but look for the offense to show a lot of wrinkles that they did not show in the opener. We’ll continue to see a lot of double tight end formations and I expect Danny Vitale to be a bigger part of the game plan.

After keeping Khalil Mack in check last week, Bryan Bulaga now gets tasked with trying to handle Danielle Hunter. That’s as tough a first two weeks as any tackle will have to deal with. Bakhtiari, assuming he plays, will have to deal with Everson Griffen who looked more like the 2017 version in the Falcons game. If Rodgers has time, and the running game is productive, he should find matchups he likes. With CB Mackenzie Alexander injured and Holton Hill suspended, the Vikes are thin and may need to call on Mike Hughes a week or two earlier than they had hoped, as he recovers from last year’s ACL.

I don’t expect the Pack’s offense to really hum for a few weeks and I think the defense will be asked to carry this team until it’s up to speed. Count me among those who believes Pettine’s crew is up to the challenge. Turnovers once again will make the difference and the Vikings’ modest win streak against the Pack ends–provided Bakhtiari plays.

Packers 17

Vikings 13

If Bakhtiari is out, I’ve got to give it to the Purple, 13-10. I’ll have much more on this one on “Packer Preview,” Sunday morning at 7am on KFAN, or via podcast at iHeart Radio or iTunes, whenever you wake up.

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31 Responses to Is Pack’s Defense Ready For an Encore?

  1. Cane says:

    So you have us scoring 13 points or 17 points (nice shameless hedge on Bacteria injury btw)? You always have over-rated your defense, even in the horrific Capers era, but you are at a whole new level of it now. Vikes will hammer the Pack, provided you don’t get typical Lambeau treatment from the zebras.

  2. GB13MN0 says:

    Hey clown! You are a complete idiot. The only thing more pathetic than you are the queens. Why don’t you go back to the daily norseman.

  3. lynndickeyfan says:

    I have to admit, I think the clever Vikings fans are right on this one.

  4. Momma Rodgers says:

    It’s a shame that A-A-ron’s career has peaked and the fans can’t come to grips with this reality.

  5. YORE Mom says:

    Sonny – You will have to say extra prayers to overcome this lie: “Over the past nine meetings the teams are 4-4-1″. Starting with most recent results: L-T-L-L-W-L-L-W-W. I thought your father and I had sent you to a good Minnesota school to overcome the cheese that’s clogging yore brain. See you early at church on Sunday. Love, YORE Mom

  6. You already lost says:

    Football aside, those of us in Minnesota dominate Wisconsin in just about every single way.
    Those of us in MN live longer, happier, healthier, lives. And we make almost 10k more a year per household then WI. This year USA today has MN as the 5th best state to live in compared to 19th for WI.
    The one area Wisconsin has us beat in? Taxes. Wisconsin pays MORE as a percentage of income.

    1. Money
    MN 84.2K per household vs WI 74.7K in 2018 https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/il/il18/Medians2018r.pdf

    2. Life expectancy
    MN 80.8 vs. 79.5 WI
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/02/21/average-life-expectancy-in-the-us-hawaii-top-state-for-a-long-life/39018551/

    3. Healthies states
    MN ranked 7 vs 23 for WI
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/20/health/healthiest-states-2018-study/index.html

    4. Happiest States
    MN 3rd WI not in top 10 so who cares?
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/09/16/best-states-happiness-study-hawaii/1281617002/

    5. Taxes paid as a percentage of Income WI 11.0% vs MN10.8%
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2019/03/05/taxes-2019-where-income-sales-and-property-tax-highest-us/39124869/

  7. peterplaysbass says:

    I had this game as an “L” for the Vikings when I was looking at the schedule a couple of weeks ago, but I’m more confident in Green Bay’s ineptitude after watching that shameful display in Chicago week 1.

  8. Gourdy says:

    Yer nuts. The Packers looked horrible in that first game vs the Bears. AR looked slow and indecisive, your running game was no where to be found, and you were luck that Trubisky is terrible. Pack is on a big downhill slide to the bottom of the NFC North.

  9. viking22 says:

    GB wasted Rodgers best years, Thank You TT & MM. Never replaced Jordy’s talent, still searching for a TE and RB. During this time, Spielman built a team to contend. The defense is rock solid, running game is established, OL is improving, QB doesn’t have to carry the team. Packer fans had a tough season last year, things might have improved marginally. Cook takes over the game with Barr, Griffen, and Hunter making this a long, long afternoon for Rodgers. Stock the cooler full of beer with lots of ice.

  10. GB13MN0 says:

    Actually, I take back my previous comment. I’m sorry.

    I’m pretty sure the packers suck now and will continue to suck for the foreseeable future.

    I’d rather be a Vikings fan right now.

  11. Danica's Lover says:

    Let’s be honest, while Cousins is no Tom Brady, Tribs was horrific in that first game and could have made a high school defense look good. Also, do we have any clue how good the run defense is, given that Nagy felt it smart to run, what, 10 times? The Vikings offense is significantly stronger and more dynamic than Chicago, and a pretty stout defense. It is almost 1000 days since the Packer beat the Vikings and Rodgers had the worst accuracy % in week one of any QB. Just keeping it real.

  12. Reality check says:

    The packers are going down faster than a fat kid on a see-saw in this one.
    Rodgers has been in decline for years and his best “play” is soccer flopping in hopes of drawing a flag.
    And you think you got a Dfense just cuz you kicked around Trubisky? Please.
    Your best D player was that greasy haired Fabio wannabe Clay Matthews and he’s gone.
    The packers are delusional and the vikings are coming with the cure.

  13. GB13MN0 says:

    I have loved the Pack my whole life, but I think we are completely underestimating the Vikings. Cook is going to run all over our pathetic defense, and the Vikings receivers are the best in the business. This isn’t even to mention the Vikings defense. Hoo boy, they are going to bring the heat and crush us on Sunday. My guess is 48-3, Vikings. I may have to divest my ownership in the Pack. Anyone know how I can sell my stock certificate?

  14. lynndickeyfan says:

    All right this is crap. The other post with my “name” on it isn’t me. Talk about a weakness in the posting system here. It does beg whether this is a Packer fan site or a KFAN sponsored place for Viking fans to hate. The Truth is the Vikings have a great chance to steal this game. My feeling is though, that this isn’t the “fast track” that the Us Bank stadium is. Cook is legit, but the defense is improved. The truth will be some where in the middle. The Packer’s Defense is going to have to make Cousins throw enough that he gives us one. The Offense has to awaken enough the keep the defense fresh. And Sinykin, I hope will care enough about this forum to understand that using someone else’s moniker is beyond not cool.
    24 -21 Packers cause we might be less talented, (or not) but I think we are less likely to make the mistake that changes the outcome of this game.

  15. Robert Bauer says:

    “you already lost” that’s why it’s great to be a Packer fan living in Minnesota.

  16. Roscoe Lombardi says:

    Roscoe Lombardi here, my daddy, former HOF coach of the Washington Redskins, used to tell me, “Son, go down to the corner and get me a pack of Lucky Strike and a 6 pack of Schlitz. It’s your ma’s and my anniversary today and I’m going bowling with Bart and Ray.”
    Did you all see our boy Rodgers carve up the greatest defense in the league last week? Aaron has never looked better. I bet that there coach Zimmerman wet himself watching Aaron’s game tapes this week.
    The Vikings have nothing on the defensive side to even slow down Aaron, it will be a blood bath. I’m thinking Rodgers will only throw from 315 yards because the running game will get another 200 or more. Final score 45 – 0 Packers.
    Like my daddy used to say “Son, every time Forrest Gregg borrows my car I find the steering wheel is smeared with Vaseline and Tabasco Sauce.”

  17. Lympdickeyfan says:

    I apologize for my earlier rant, obviously I had to much gravy and Busch Light, blacked out and forgot to logout of the library computer.
    Packers will lose at Lameblow because they aren’t a good team, squandered all of Aaron’s good years (and good looking girlfriends) and their fans are living in the past.
    PS: This is really good gravy, no you can’t have any it’s all mine.

  18. lynndickeyfan says:

    I’ve to say this. I agree with the latest post by “my name”, but I didn’t post that. I’m confused, I just would like this to be a fan site. Who are they? Where do they come from? I hope they visit our home stadium and talk directly these things to me. I would love our side to shut them out this week, I hope our defense is finally legit. I just can’t stand losing in our home, I guess I may need to come to reality on this one. Hhuumm…

  19. Packerlifer says:

    The new and improved Packer defense will continue to impress as they stifle yet another NFC North offense. Mike Pettine will once again scheme to take away the run and make the qb play football. The rush should mash Kissin’ Cousins. The $83 million dollar man can’t run like Trubisky and plays behind a much weaker line. If the Pack can get 5 sacks on the Bears they could have 8-10 in this one and net at least 2 INTs to boot. The offense should round more into form in this one. LaFleur will be patient with the run. Look for 25-30 rushes by Aaron Jones & Jamaal Williams. They may not make massive yardage but it will pay off later in the game with some key runs and keep things balanced. The Queen’s defense isn’t Chicago. Especially not playing outdoors on grass. The Falcons stumbled and fumbled over their own feet last Sunday and still put up 345 on them. Matt Ryan threw for over 300 and 2 td’s playing a lousy game and from behind all the way. An incentivized Aaron Rodgers hits them for 275 and 3 td’s. Packers win 24-14.

  20. Mike McCarthy says:

    LaFleur … LaShmoor …. If a certain Coach of the Decade …. ( looks in Mirror. ) … had been roaming the sidelines last week …. it would have been Packers 56 – Bears 0 Zero …. and everyone knows it ! … MM out.

  21. Millelacs Mike says:

    You already lost what a moron idiot,if it’s so great over there how come Wisconsin is full of loser mudduck queens fans every weekend,one thing your missing over there is 13 championships,0 for 4 chokers,what an idiot!!!

  22. Packerlifer says:

    Queendom must be worried. All the trolling here is people whistling past the graveyard. And well they might. Only once in 10 tries have the Stinkqueens won against Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau without a former Packers HOF qb playing for them or a screwed up league rule letting them to leave town with a tie. Rodgers is 7-2-1 all-time at Lambeau against the Poople but 9-1 without the anomalies.

  23. Proud Mudduck says:

    Millelacsmike,
    You want to know why MN gents go to WI every weekend?
    Same reason Mexico is bombarded by US tourists. Cheap beer, cheap land and cheap women.
    Come on, you know mudduck is just WI slang for a Gringo. You might hate the mudduck, but you secretly want to be one. Some therapy might help you work through this.
    and Mike,
    you are aware of which state Millelacs is in?
    Was it you or your unwed mother that jumped the St. Croix?Perhaps your poor dad traveled here in search of work and a better life?

  24. Millelacs Mike says:

    Ha proud mudduck,you answered my question,it’s just better over here,moron mudduck!!

  25. Packerlifer says:

    O where, O where have the viqueen trolls gone. O where, O where can they be? With a loss to the Pack, back to Minny they’ve packed. To look at their no Lombardi. (sing to the tune of O Where O Where Has my Little Dog Gone)

  26. Greg says:

    The Vikings got Lambeaued with the refs today. You all know it. You just can’t admit it. 3 offensive pass interference calls and one took away a touchdown. Come on NFL. Even with that idiot the Vikings place under center, it was a refereeing job for the ages.

  27. St Paul guy says:

    Typical whining Vikings fan Greg,blame your overrated quarterback and offensive line and the idiot Diggs,you ruin it for us Vikings fans,where were we in the first half!!!

  28. Greg says:

    St Paul guy, Cousins sucks, but you can’t keep having the announcers go the head guy in New York and say nothing is there, and yet it was there…..LOL 130 yards in penalties, 3 offensive pass interference, you ran 69 offensive and never held once. We sucked, and with any competent officiating, we still win. Enjoy the mild run.

  29. St Paul guy says:

    Nice try Greg,maybe you should call New York,still wouldn’t have given us the lead,stop whining about the officiating,we’re pathetic and Zimmer is done,you enjoy the run!!!

  30. St Paul guy says:

    What about the sucky kicking game Greg,I suppose that was the officials fault too,your whining to the wrong people!!!

  31. Packerlifer says:

    Ah, the patented Queen’s fan play: the Zebra Conspiracy. That’s right. The Packers get to use hometown residents as game officials. That’s why the Stinkqueens lose. They’d have 50 Super Bowls but the world picks on them to deny them. You don’t have to be a paranoid to be a Viqueens’ fan but it sure helps, doesn’t it?

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