WEEK 16: Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
Opponent Record: 6-6, third in NFC North
What to look out for:
Unsurprisingly, the possible return of Aaron Rodgers is something to look out for. Of course, the Green Bay Packers are a far different team with their star quarterback in the fold. Not to mention, Rodgers probably relishes the chance of getting back at the Vikings after Anthony Barr knocked him out with a broken collarbone in Week 6.
Nevertheless, I’m not sure it’s a guarantee that Minnesota sees him in Lambeau as the Packers would have to be sure he’s 100 percent before putting him on the field. If Rodgers weren’t to play, the Vikings have a distinct advantage as this Packers team just isn’t the same without him.
Keys to victory:
If Rodgers plays, the Vikings have to contain the quarterback in the pocket as he’s arguably the most dangerous QB when getting out of the pocket. Sure, he’s still going to make huge plays in the pocket, but Rodgers tends to make teams pay most when he gives his receivers more time to get open. In other words, limiting Rodgers from what he does best is a recipe for winning success.
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If he doesn’t play, expect Minnesota to game plan more around Green Bay’s rookie running back tandem of Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, who have broken out since Rodgers’ injury. Shutting them down would force Brett Hundley to throw the ball more and set up a lethal Vikings pass rush, hopefully forcing the young quarterback into some crucial sacks and mistakes.
Offensively, Case Keenum has to take advantage of a weak passing defense. One that has had lots of trouble stopping Adam Thielen in the last two games. Overall, he’s put together 21 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns in those games against the Packers. Also, the Vikings offense has to continue to take care of the ball against an opportunistic defense that ranks in the top-10 in takeaways.
Score Prediction: 31-17 Vikings
In the end, I don’t see Rodgers playing in this game. Yes, there’s been videos surfacing of him throwing the football, but the big deal is whether he’s healthy enough to take a hit on that shoulder. Not to mention, the Packers odds of making the playoffs are already slim. Consequently, the Packers are better off resting their star quarterback for next season and in turn, the Vikings get a big win in Lambeau over the Packers.