GB CB1 Proclaims “Pack is Back” as Vikings Game Looms

Going into the Week 17 game, Packers players are probably feeling reasonably positive. After all, they’ve won 3-straight games, so they now have a legitimate shot at sneaking into the playoffs. In fact, the GB CB1 – Jaire Alexander – expressed confidence in his squad following their win over the Dolphins.

The GB CB1 is Feeling Good

Take a look at the interview:

First, I’ll merely note that Jaire Alexander is a great player. At 25, Alexander ought to continue being a great player for the Packers for several more years. PFF currently has him as their 11th-best corner. Previously, he finished as their top-rated corner (back in 2020). The vast majority of his snaps are along the outside, so we should expect to see plenty of plays where he gets Justin Jefferson duty.

The interview is great. He’s clearly excited about the win and his team’s chances. Toward the end, the GB CB1 offered a simple, declarative statement: “Pack is back.”

Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) runs with the football after intercepting a pass during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Minnesota was authoring their own exciting story. Greg Joseph’s 61-yarder put the 12th win onto the pile, further reinforcing the notion that the Vikings are in the midst of a special season. They’ve already won the NFC North and are pursuing an unlikely journey toward the #1 seed in the NFC .

In the past, the matchup between the MN WR1 and GB CB1 has gotten a lot of attention. That’s what happens when arch rivals put two young stars directly against each other. For whatever it’s worth, Jefferson did have a nice game in Week 1, the last time these two teams played. The 23-year-old receiver finished his day with 9 catches, 184 yards, and 2 TDs. Not all of that was on Alexander, but Jefferson clearly didn’t have too much trouble in Week 1.

Going into the next game, Jefferson is up to 123 catches, 1756 yards, and 8 TDs. Alexander has 53 tackles, 13 PDs, and 5 INTs.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Green Bay is heading into Week 17 with a 27% chance of making the postseason. Given their modest start to the year – they were 4-8 not too long ago – the Packers must be feeling pretty good about those chances. A win, apparently, would push GB to a 55% chance of making it into the final tournament whereas a loss drops them down to a mere 3% (these figures will vary somewhat).

If the Packers truly are back, then the Vikings will need to bring the best version of themselves to secure the win. Going into Lambeau in January isn’t easy, and nor is it easy to take down Aaron Rodgers. The hope is that Kevin O’Connell will allow his offense to burn the clock as Ed Donatell finds a way to crank up the pressure on #12.

Questions Answered: Za'Darius' Role
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) celebrate victory at the end of the second half of the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

There are a variety of storylines to monitor heading into this game, too many for us to fully unpack in this modest piece. Instead, I’ll merely circle back to the main point before pivoting into a brief thought that has come up across numerous articles.

Alexander is going to have a heavy burden placed on his shoulders: stifling Jefferson. If he decides that he’d rather avoid this matchup, O’Connell can likely shift Jefferson into the slot, a spot where Alexander doesn’t travel too often. In other words, it’d be surprising if #18 puts together a modest day. Perhaps the best way to slow him down rests in getting a ton of pressure on Cousins.

On the other side of things is Za’Darius Smith, the former Packer. His stats have been more modest lately, but he has still been getting plenty of pressures. The pressures, of course, are positive, but we should be hoping that they get converted into sacks on at least a couple occasions. Making Rodgers uncomfortable in the pocket will go a long way in snagging win #13.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and PFF helped with this piece.

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