Pack's Chances on Sunday: Questionable.Posted:Sep 15th, 2018 2:05 am
Will he or won't he?
That is the question that defines the Week 2 showdown between the Pack and the Vikes. Most believe there is no way Rodgers won't be out there. I put it at about 80%. For the purposes of this blog, I'm going to assume #12 will be under center, or more accurately, in the shotgun when the offense takes the field. I mean, let's be honest, if Kizer is the starter the Pack has no shot.
So let's look at this matchup: when the Packers have the ball, they'll likely employ a similar strategy that was used when a one-legged Rodgers returned in the second half. Rodgers will avoid being under center, remaining in the shotgun or pistol all afternoon. A more effective running game would be his best friend in this one and I expect to see a lot more of Marcedes Lewis parked next to Bryan Bulaga to slow the pass rush of Danielle Hunter, as well as assisting with run blocking duties.
I expect Jamal Williams and Ty Montgomery to find it difficult to be real productive on the ground, but there should be considerable opportunities from them in the passing game against what is certain to be a fierce pass rush. The tight ends also figure to be used much more in this one. Look for Jimmy Graham to be targeted at least six times, especially with Davante Adams dealing with a sore shoulder and the Vikings aware of where Randall Cobb is at all times. If Cobb is matched up with the rookie Hughes, give the veteran the advantage. He and Rodgers are in sync and that's a matchup they can exploit.
When the Vikings have the ball, the story will be the guys in front of Cousins. The Vikings' makeshift offensive line will have its hands full with Daniels, Clark and Wilkerson. If they can make Kirk Cousins uncomfortable they'll force him into some mistakes. After getting no takeaways last week (except on the final play), it feels like the Packers' corners will have a couple of opportunities to take the ball away.
This will be the Pack's first look at Dalvin Cook, who was injured before these teams met. He showed last weekend how dangerous he can be as a receiver. If rookie Oren Burks is able to go, and he's listed as questionable, his speed and coverage ability should help limit Cook. The second year back was not able to do much on the ground in the opener, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry. Much of that was due to the run blocking by the line, which frankly is not good. The Pack should be able to keep him and Murray in check for the most part. We'll see whether Perry, Matthews and Gilbert can exert pressure from the outside. We didn't see enough of that against the Bears and being at home, the Pak needs to make Cousins uncomfortable.
This will be the first road game for rookie kicker Daniel Carlson, so special teams will be interesting to watch. Throw in a pair of inexperienced punters and Cobb assuming the punt returner role for the near future and there are lots of interesting story lines here.
Look, we know the Pack dodged a bullet last Sunday night, thanks to one of the most incredible quarterback performances we'll ever see. Mike Pettine's defense got better as the game went along. There were too many missed tackled and roughing the passer penalties, but the early returns were encouraging, particularly the play of the three young corners. The Vikes, meanwhile, turned the Niners over four times and still only won by one score. They didn't run effectively and gave up a bunch of passing yards.
If Rodgers is about 80% of his usual self, the Packers will have enough to stay in this game. I'll call it a bit of a back and forth affair, with Mason Crosby winning it late.
Pack 24 Vikings 23
Just like last week.