The Vikings/Packers Feuds Extend Beyond Jaire & Jefferson

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

Admittedly, we’re getting to the Vikings/Packers talk a bit late in the week. After all, it’s already Friday, so the Bears game is a mere couple days away. The intrigue, though, rests in the outside chance of Minnesota seeing Green Bay in the playoffs (a scenario some might find concerning).

As a result, we’re circling back to the Packers contest and its aftermath. As you’ll see, Jaire Alexander isn’t the only Packers player to have taken note of what NFL fans and analysts have been saying.

The Vikings/Packers Rivalries

Much to the chagrin of Vikings fans, the Packers took a kickoff back for a long touchdown. Take a peak at what Keisean Nixon had to say about claims of Kene Nwangwu being the league’s preeminent kickoff returner:

Nixon definitely has some bragging rights since he scored the TD and his team performed so much better. Nwangwu, though, is no slouch. His 5 returns went for 141 yards on Sunday, good for a 28.2 yards-per-return average. For the season, Nwangwu is at 920 total yards and a 26.3 return average. So, a step behind Nixon, but proclamations about who is the best seem a touch premature even though this round goes to Nixon.

Of course, we still do think of the back and forth between the Packers corner and Vikings wide receiver. I, for one, would be thrilled about seeing Justin Jefferson get another shot at Jaire Alexander. The score is currently tied at 1-1:

A third and final game would give us a sense of who deserves the crown for the current season. In my horribly biased opinion, we’d see a much different outcome in RD3. Jefferson’s lack of production had as much (if not more) to do with the struggles at OL and QB as it did with Green Bay’s CB.

We also think of Za’Darius Smith and Chandon Sullivan, two players who are in Minnesota after spending several years with cheese atop their heads. Smith is the one who is particularly fascinating.

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

Let’s not forget that the edge rusher won the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Month Award for October. Unfortunately, the production hasn’t continued at the same pace, leading to some questions about whether he’s battling through an injury. Since the Week 11 Dallas game, Smith only has a half sack. For a little while, it looked like a near guarantee he’d lock-in some extra money based on performance bonuses. At present, that hasn’t come to pass; he still needs 0.5 sacks to get the extra $750,000 and 2.5 sacks to add on the extra $1,000,000.

The Road Ahead

As we acknowledged up top, the Vikings must first worry about the Bears before any potential Packers rematch can be considered. Chicago is rolling with Nathan Peterman at QB, so the advantage tilts heavily in Minnesota’s direction.

Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks on in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

As soon as the Week 18 game ends, though, the focus will turn toward the playoffs. More specifically, Vikings fans – and the team itself – will be looking toward seeding and the opponent for the opening round. The 49ers begin their game at 3:25 CST. If they win, SF gets the #2 spot in the NFC.

We’ll also all be keeping an eye on Sunday Night Football since the Lions and Packers will have a showdown. One has to assume that most fans of the purple and gold are tossing their weight behind Dan Campbell’s group. Who doesn’t like a good underdog story?

One final thought. At worst, Minnesota is going to finish their season at 12-5 and as NFC North champions. As a result, they’ve earned the right to get into the playoffs, a tournament featuring the NFL’s best teams so we can see who is worthy of winning the Super Bowl. In the end, all we can really ask for is a chance. True, it’s very discouraging to see players like Brian O’Neill lost for the season, but there’s no such thing as a championship that doesn’t involve overcoming adversity. Minnesota needs to keep pressing forward, believing they can still accomplish the ultimate goal.

The Vikings have done enough to give themselves a chance to pursue the Lombardi Trophy. That’s a fact that’s worth celebrating. And, perhaps, we might even get the chance at some revenge against the division rival that took them down late in the season.

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