|Minnesota Vikings||2019 Stats||Green Bay Packers|
|5656||Total Offensive Yards||5528|
|5.8||Yards Per Offensive Play||5.4|
|2133 (476)||Rushing Yards (Attempts)||1795 (411)|
|4.5||Rushing Yards Per Attempt||4.4|
|20-31 (+11)||Turnovers-Takeaways (+/-)||13-25 (+12)|
Vikings Top Storylines
By: Jay Strack
Let’s kick things off already, am I right? Barring any last minute Covid-19 outbreaks, the Vikings will start their season this weekend against the Green Bay Packers. It means so much to football fans across the nation. It means a lot for all the kind people here at Purple Territory. While questions abound, this team will look to take down a Packers team that has started each of the last five seasons with a win. Not all of our questions will be answered week one, but it will bring us one week closer to this team’s destiny. Let’s get into it Viking’s fans.
Danielle Hunter’s “tweak” turns into IR
This is a big blow. The Minnesota Vikings will be without their star edge-rusher this Sunday. News broke on Wednesday that Danielle Hunter will miss the first three weeks of the season with the same injury that has held him out of training camp. After recently acquiring disgruntled Jaguar’s star Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings looked to pair the two together to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. That satisfaction will have to wait as Ngakoue and Ifeadi Odenigbo look to pick up the slack in Hunter’s absence.
Another aspect that needs to be considered is the fact that Ngakoue hasn’t been practicing for that long. With little time to learn the scheme it will be interesting to see how much he will be able to play. Odenigbo needs to show up big time in order to give this young secondary a chance to catch up.
All the eyes will be on the array of young cornerbacks the Vikings have invested in over the last three years. Mike Hughes and Holton Hill have both been named starters in the first unofficial depth chart of 2020. It will be interesting to see which of the two, if not both, will take that next step.
Rookies Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler will also look to make an impact. Getting them in-game reps against a hall of fame quarterback is amazing, but why not shoot for the stars and shut him down? If training camp was any indication, these two guys will be coming out of the gate ready to put the league on notice.
I’m a firm believer that this team will go as far as this young secondary allows it. There is reason for optimism with this young group, but having a little patience could go a long way in keeping sane throughout this season. Going up against Rodgers should be a good test for an unproven secondary.
Which young offensive player emerges?
If you’re a fan of Justin Jefferson, I am a fan of you. If Jefferson can put up the numbers Courtney Cronin suggests in her season preview, the Vikings would be on pace to have two star wide receivers again. All of Minnesota would be thrilled to hear that a wide receiver picked in the first round turned out to be serviceable. Jefferson should be electric and someone to watch the entire game.
Irv Smith Jr. is going into a 2020 season with a ton of upside. “Irv’s taken a big step as a second-year player,” Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said. After a pedestrian rookie season where Smith Jr. may have been underused, the team is looking to get him more involved. “We ask Irv to play a lot of spots for us, tight end, up position, those wideout positions. But Irv has really settled down,” Kubiak remarked. Being treated to an offensive explosion led by a versatile Irv Smith Jr. is exactly how I want to spend my Sunday.
How the Vikings handle the pressure
Let us know in the comment section below if you think this Vikings offensive line will allow less than two sacks this Sunday. I don’t think it’s possible. The Smith tandem that the Packers covet are really good. When those two are playing well and forcing Cousins outside of the pocket, it’s not fun for any of us. An offensive line with some question marks is not how I want to start the season anymore, but this our reality. How the Vikings will look past those realities will be a story to watch every Sunday.
Feel good story of the week
Dan Chisena, an undrafted free agent, made this Vikings team in the midst of a global pandemic. While also switching positions, TWICE. He practiced with the defensive backs, but was soon sent back to the wide receivers. What the team really likes about him is what he will bring to special teams. Watch for Chisena to make a big play, or four, this weekend.
Packers Top Storylines
By: Josh Frey
I know many of you Vikings fans out there probably aren’t excited to read about the Packers, especially after all the Green Bay fans in your lives gloating for the past 8 months about a 13-3 record, their dominant Aaron duo, and how the Lombardi trophy is coming home again in 2020 (did you know the Packers have the most NFL championships of any team??). All the while, refuting any mention of the shit show that was the NFC Championship Game because “well, where was YOUR team in January?”.
It’s ok, Vikings fans, I get it. There have been plenty of those cheeseheads in my life, too. Let them have 2019. 2020 is a whole new year of endless possibilities! In terms of living room fandom it is, anyway. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Week One might not be the end all be all, but it will be very important for the end of the season standings as these two teams enter this matchup pretty dead even in my eyes.
The Vikings may enter the season with a ton of questions on the defensive side of the ball, but hey, the Packers have just as many questions on the offensive side of the ball. Let’s cover a few of these Green Bay storylines, and how they affect this week one matchup.
I promise to try to keep this section short. Minnesota fans are far too familiar with this man. In 23 career starts against the Vikes, Aaron Rodgers has thrown for nearly 5500 yards and 43 touchdowns. The touchdowns are the second highest total that he’s thrown against any individual team, behind only the Chicago Bears.
The good news is, the last time Rodgers played in Minnesota, he completed 26/40 passes for just 216 yards and an interception. The bad news? The Vikings still lost that game due to Aaron Jones rushing for over 150 yards and two scores.
Even though the Vikings went 0-2 last year against Green Bay, there’s still hope. Rodgers seemed to fall off in 2019 following a fast start. He threw for over 250 yards just once in the final eight games, and it came in a week 17 game against Detroit where he threw 55 times. This led to the questionable Green Bay first round pick of heir apparent, Jordan Love. Could last year’s end of season struggles continue into week one?
Will the Offensive Line Hold Up?
Even though the Vikings recently got some bad news with star DE Danielle Hunter going on the IR days before this game, Minnesota still has their other, newly acquired, star in Yannick Ngakoue. Hunter’s replacement, Ifeadi Odenibo, also showed flashes in limited time last year, so Vikings fans can feel good about that. Now, how will the Packers handle this rush from the Vikings?
The Green Bay offensive line has plenty of questions on its own. After letting one of the best run blockers in the NFL, Bryan Bulaga, leave in free agency, Green Bay failed to acquire anyone that will live up to Bulaga’s impact. This is extremely unfortunate for a Packer offense that seems to be moving more towards running the ball as Rodgers ages.
The one signing Green Bay made was former Ravens and Lions tackle Rick Wagner, who was all around bad last season. Even at his best, Wagner is a much better pass blocker than run blocker. Then, news broke that both Wagner and fellow right tackle Billy Turner are struggling with injuries going into week one, and it’s possible neither will be ready to play. This has left head coach Matt LaFleur scrambling, and there is now a possibility that Elgton Jenkins will be moved from guard to tackle for the game.
With the line situation being slim in Green Bay, this is the time for the Vikings rush to take advantage. Rodgers had the luxury of the sixth most time to pass in 2019, according to nextgenstats.nfl.com.
Even with all this time, he proved to be one of the more erratic passers during the season with the worst bad throw percentage in the entire NFL at 21.2%, according to pro-football-reference.com. This stat excludes throwaways and spikes as well, so that can’t be used as an excuse. These numbers are bound to expose themselves with a weakened front line.
The Packers probably know this is an issue, and they will more than likely rely on their star back Aaron Jones to carry the offense. Jones rushed for 270 yards and two touchdowns in the two games against Minnesota last year, so that is definitely the best option. Will the banged up line allow Jones to assert his dominance against Minnesota’s front seven though?
Who Steps Up at Wide Receiver?
The Packers have a clear number one receiver in Davante Adams, but everyone and their dog entered this offseason knowing Green Bay needed to get a secondary option for Rodgers to throw to. Instead, they traded up to draft a quarterback in the first round, and they drafted two more running backs.
The best signing Green Bay made to potentially help Adams in receiving duties was Devin Funchess. However, Funchess has opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. The remaining four options behind Adams on the roster have pulled in a combined 121 receptions throughout their careers, so needless to say, Green Bay is entering 2020 with some serious questions at receiver.
In August, Green Bay had a huge scare when during practice Adams appeared to hurt himself. Adams went down in a heap after apparently tweaking his right leg/ankle and had to leave the practice. The Packers breathed a collective sigh of relief when he returned to finish the walk-throughs.
Adams has been very durable throughout his career, but last year he missed four games with a toe injury. If something happens to Adams, you can bet opposing defenses will pack the box to stop Jones from running on them.
Minnesota has some young corners, but because of the lack of depth behind Adams, they will be able to put the majority of their attention on him. Safeties Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith are also two of the best players at the position, and they will surely be in the play no matter where Rodgers throws the ball. Someone named Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Malike Taylor, or Equanlmeous St. Brown is going to need to take some pressure off Adams for the Packers to win this game.