Packers XLV

Suddenly, the #1 Seed Is Within Pack's Grasp.

Posted December 23rd, 2019 @ 02:12am

Well now. Maybe Border Battle #119 has a little more riding on it than we all thought it would. Arizona's stunning beatdown of the Seahawks in Seattle has the Packers dreaming about the NFC's top seed and the Vikings two wins away from no worse than the five seed.

As amazing as it seems, if the Packers win out, all they'll need would be a Seattle win at home in Week 17 to claim the #1 seed (though the way the Seahawks looked on Sunday, the Niners should come in pretty confident. Not to mention they're down to their fourth string running back, with Carson and Prosise done for the season).

Neither fan base ever needs extra motivation when these teams clash, but with those enticing carrots within the teams' grasp, it should make for quite a night at US Bank Stadium. While the Pack is 5-4 in its last nine games across the border, they've yet to cash in at the Bank and they come in to this matchup as healthy as they could dream to be in Week 16. Only Dean Lowry is listed on the injury report--questionable with an ankle injury--though he practiced all week and was a full participant on Saturday.

The Vikings are almost as healthy. Other than their top two RBs, every other starter is good to go. We know Dalvin Cook is out, likely until the playoffs. Alexander Mattison, dealing with an ankle, returned to practice on Saturday, but it expected to get another week to heal. Even if he goes, the Packers expect to get a healthy dose of second year back Mike Boone, who scored twice last week in relief of Cook and is a third string back in name only. He's talented and will be a problem for the Pack's defense. But it remains to be seen if he can help in the passing game, where Cook had been lethal of late. You have to believe the game plan shifts a little with Boone, Ameer Abdullah and CJ Ham leading the running attack. I would think Mike Pettine would throw a few blitzes at Kirk Cousins to see how prepared the backup backs are to handle them.

We also don't really know what to expect from Adam Thielen. He played in half the snaps last week in LA in his first game back from that lingering hamstring injury. Will they unleash him on Monday night, or continue to be conservative, knowing there isn't that much to gain by winning out. I have a feeling the Vikings tight ends are primary targets for Cousins--the Packers have struggled against tight ends all season. Does Irv Smith break out in this game, just the latest #84 to announce himself on Monday Night Football against the Pack?

If we get a typical performance by Green Bay's defense, they'll surrender big chunks of yards, allowing the Vikes to move fairly freely between the 20s. But they should stiffen in the red zone, as they have all season, with Minnesota lacking some of their biggest playmakers. If they can force them to trot out Dan Bailey a few times, the Pack's defense will have done its job.

So what do we expect from the Pack's offense? It's probably out of the question to expect another 21-0 lead, but they've been very good in the first quarter of late. And step one in trying to spring the upset is jumping out to a lead and keeping the fans quiet and nervous. This has to be a game where Aaron Jones is featured. The Pack is 7-1 when he gets 15 touches. What that tells us he's only gotten 15+ touches in eight of the 14 games. This needs to be #9; his week two performance against the Vikes opened everyone's eyes on what he could mean to this offense.

The passing game will look different, with Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow finally poised to pass MVS and Geronimo Allison on the depth chart. They've both earned extra targets and will allow the Pack to continue to move Davante Adams all over the place--he had more snaps from the slot last week than he has all season. The Vikings' corners can be picked on--look for Rodgers to test Mike Hughes early and often.

This is a huge game for Bryan Bulaga. He'll need help against Danielle Hunter on the fast track in Minneapolis. But if he can keep Hunter as quiet as he kept Khalil Mack last week, the Packers' offense could be in for a big night. They'll need to be much better on third downs than they've been in recent weeks. They rank near the bottom of the league in converting third and six or more yards and it goes without saying the place will be deafening if the Pack find themselves in third and long throughout the night.

We all know Kirk Cousins is 0-8 on Monday Night Football and you know that he and everyone in the Vikings organization would like nothing more than to end that narrative with a performance that would force the Pack to wait a week before they can pop the champagne with a division title, not to mention likely taking them out of the conversation as a top two seed.

I'm a bit surprised the line is 5 1/2, with the issues at running back on the Vikings. It does seem like the entire world likes the Vikes in this one, just like everyone in the world liked the Cowboys to beat the Eagles and the Seahawks to beat the Cardinals. the NFL is a crazy league sometimes. A Mason Crosby field goal wins it as time expires:

Packers 23  Vikings 21

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Comments (12):

I disagree with davey. I have only watched a couple viking games this year but they seem to be a better all around team and have not gotten blown out like us. If the packers can keep it close, I like their chances. But I don't think they keep this one close. Take care of the lions next week for the division to complete this turn around season!! Vikings:34 packers 20

on December 22nd, 2019 at 11:28pm

If it's a hold on Minnesota, it's a hold on Green Bay. If it's offensive pass interference on Minnesota, that exact same play is offensive pass interference on Green Bay. That's all we ever ask in Minnesota. Rarely happens, but lets go for that.

on December 23rd, 2019 at 01:55am

Most of the concerns about this game have to do more with where it's being played as opposed to whom. US Bank Stadium is the most purposely rigged home field in the league. It's loud but the decibals of the "12th Man" isn't like KC or Seattle, which are open air stadia, but the enclosure of 70,000 voices amplified by the placement and direction of the pa system to disrupt the visiting team's operation. In the case of Green Bay games they suppress ticket sales to Packers; fans to avoid the risk of a hostile crowd takeover. The disparity in the record of the Queens there compared to the road and even more the uncharacteristic things that even the best visiting clubs do there to lose is no coincidence. Even with the cards marked and the deck stacked against them, though, the Packers could have come out of there with a win on at least one or two of their previous trips. The game and season spun in 2017 on the dirty late hit on Aaron Rodgers that fractured his collarbone there. Mike McCarthy's 4th down and play call decisions in the other two backfired. And then there have been uncharacteristic turnovers and narrow misses on touchdown throws. It will, of course, be great if the Pack wins and clinches the Division outright tonight. But they still hold the tiebreaker even with a loss. I expect about a 24-20 game either way. What will be key is the rush the defense can put on Kissin' Cousins. A 5-6 sack game with consistent pressure all night will lead to a couple of INT's and critical imcompletions that will be decisive. Aaron Rodgers can take it from there.

on December 23rd, 2019 at 05:25am

Davey, did you see that? Suppressed tickets for packer fans, stadium is artificially too loud, and a bad hit on Rodgers. Sounds like you should really be 3-0 in US bank. LULZ!

on December 23rd, 2019 at 06:53am

First the hit on Rogers was not dirty or flagged, something even Davey said at the time. The Vikings are a better all around team and will win this one 35-24. Pack will put up some late garbage time points when it does not matter.

on December 23rd, 2019 at 09:39am

What a whining pussy Greg,let it go,good grief!!You are embarrassing my beloved state!!

on December 23rd, 2019 at 09:59am

Hey Vikingsforthewin we’ve had the better teams a lot of times,beating the packers is not winning the super bowl,what have we done with the better teams,get ready for the inevitable choke!!

on December 23rd, 2019 at 10:27am

Greg you whining pussy we got every brake tonight,you guaranteed a win,Cousins sucks and oline is shit!! And to Vikingsforthewin idiot,better all around team my ass,Ugly Kirk came back,another stupid mudduck,Yikes,Ouch!!Time for Zimmer to go,I’ve had it and the idiots that come on here and think we’re good!!

on December 23rd, 2019 at 10:30pm

I didn't Z was going to blow up like that. I'm sorry Z. Thank you Z. I'll see next week, ok. DAMN!

on December 23rd, 2019 at 10:39pm

From a strength/weaknesses standpoint I think the two teams match up pretty good. I like our secondary and I don't think the Vikings secondary is that great. This is a fast track, and because of that I would not be at all surprised if MVS tries to give us a don't forget about me moments. Is he Troy Williamson though? Thielen and Diggs are a tough cover, but if we can limit the time with good rushes, then we have a chance. I still don't expect to win this game. I'm just hoping to be pleasantly surprised. My prediction is that one of these two teams is going to win a playoff game and that the other will not. I still don't know which is which. :)

on December 23rd, 2019 at 10:43am

It has been said, even by me, that this team identity may be winning ugly. Although, the Packers offense didn't play great, I think it would be besmirch this team and this victory to call this an ugly win. It was not. What it was, a defensive masterpiece. The D-line wreaked havoc. The Backers covered and tackled. Martinez was Martinez and the not a single one of them got owned. I don't even have any idea who was playing next to Martinez and that is a beautiful thing. This was a clean game. Like 3 penalties, and the media seamed to agree with all three. Yes, The Vikes were robbed of a 4 yard? completion that they decided not to challenge. I could talk about the negatives on offense, but I DON'T WANT TO! You can't make me. The Victory is too sweet to be sour at all. Go Pack Go! One goal down, 3-4 goals left. :)

on December 23rd, 2019 at 10:56pm

I believe our secondary is better,if we can get some heat on Cousins he’ll serve it up,couple turnovers like my buddy Larry says and it could be the difference.

on December 23rd, 2019 at 12:44pm

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