By James Hill, September 12, 2019
The Border Battle. The Cheese heads of Green Bay versus the Vikings of Minnesota. Green versus Purple. A rivalry that dates back to 1971 and has become a staple of both teams’ calendars (at least from a fans perspective). There is no bigger game Week 2 in the NFL than this. And for this fan, I simply cannot wait to see an improved contest, and hopefully, have my team walk away with the W.
Both teams, it is safe to say, under-performed during the 2018 Season. Green Bay, stifled by Defensive Woes and Stop/Start Offense, slumped to a 6-9-1 Record, which resulted in the firing of Mike McCarthy during the season and the eventual replacement of Matt LeFleur coming in the off-season. As such, an off-season of upheaval began, with the main focus being on Defence.
The draft acquisitions of DE Rashan Gary and S Darnell Savage in the 1st Round of the Draft (12th and 21st Overall) lead the way, while another key addition was the signing of S Adrian Amos from Chicago during Free Agency. It’s now of the belief that the Packers finally boast stars on the other side of the ball, with many stating Aaron Rodgers finally has a Super Bowl Calibre Defence (Colin Cowherd stating “don’t worry about Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay has finally given him a real defence”).
This proved key in Week 1, Holding the Bears to a sole Field Goal in a 10-3 victory was nothing shy of the upheaval evident in the off-season, added to the benefit of the unit remaining fairly healthy.
The only players who have been on the DNP list are LB Oren Burks (Chest) and WR Darrius Sheppard (Hamstring) as of Thursday 12th September. However, this is a team with its faults still having given up five sacks even against the No.1 Defence in 2018, is unforgivable for any team with Post-Season aspirations, and is definitely not in the best interests of QB Rodgers going forward, who most certainly has been considered “fragile” in the past 2 seasons (suffering a fractured collarbone vs MN in 2017 and a persistent knee injury from Week 1 vs CHI in 2018).
The Vikings, meanwhile, showed great progress from the 8-7-1 season in Week 1. The key additions came in the form of adding Offensive Advisor and Super Bowl Winner Garry Kubiack working alongside Kevin Stefanski, as well as O-Linemen Josh Kline (F.A) and Garret Bradbury (18th Overall in the 2019 Draft) to improve a unit that ranked 30th Last Season.
As such, a Week 1 win over Atlanta (28-12) was a showcase of a revamped Offense, a Defence getting backed to its best and the emergence of a critical component in any team – a solid Special Teams unit. The tone for the game was set on a quick start by Anthony Barr, creating a sack in 3.06 seconds for the first of four on the day, and causing a blocked punt by Erik Wilson after forcing the Falcons to go 3 and out.
It was quick, it set the tone, it stopped any sort of rhythm, and its exactly how Mike Zimmer likes to win his ball games. Getting out early, being able to establish the run and no turnovers meant that the Vikings start eclipsed the side that lost to the Bears Week 17 last season, and everyone in the back staff must be happy.
In terms of personnel, Kirk Cousins only threw 10 times – completing 8 for 1 TD and 98 Yards but has stated he will throw however much he has to in order to win (Cousins threw 48 times in the T/OT @ GB last season) but is happy to being able to establish the run how they did. The defence’s performance will be critical going into GB, and the man to watch out for has to be NFC Defensive Player of the Week Anthony Harris, who recorded 2 INT’s, 5 Tackles and 1 FR, but as a whole the entire unit needs to ball out.
They may be hindered by the loss of Alexander (Elbow/DNP) but Zimmer refused to rule him out playing, similarly with Mike Hughes who was a full participant in recent practices, neither have been given a gameday designation yet. The only other DNP is Pat Elfien (Knee) who may be replaced on the Line by recent re-signing Brett Jones after a shaky start Week 1.
It’ll be an incredibly close game, expect Kirk Cousins to throw more, Rodgers to maybe throw less, and Defence’s to be on top.
The key for both teams are simple:-
GB:- You MUST keep Aaron Rodgers upright, its simple.
MN:- You MUST get Aaron Rodgers sacked the same, if not more than CHI did. He’s the entire offence.
Fans Prediction? Not this week, I can’t be the one seen as jinxing the result, but I’m confident my Vikings can keep themselves unbeaten, and keep up a 3 Year Undefeated Streak vs GB!