Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Minnesota has wrapped up the NFC North title and could finish anywhere between the No. 1 and No. 3 seed depending on how it finishes the year.
- Green Bay has been heating up recently and likely needs to win its last two games to have a chance at making the playoffs.
- These two teams last met in Week 1, when the Vikings won in dominant fashion with a 23-7 victory.
- The Packers run defense and Vikings pass defense are clear weaknesses that each team can exploit.
How Minnesota Will Try To Win ::
Minnesota may be the biggest “poser” we have seen from a 12-3 team in many years, as they barely have a positive point differential for the season despite a relatively mundane schedule and they have looked very beatable in recent weeks as they lost handily to the Lions, narrowly squeaked by the Giants, Jets, and Vikings, and needed the greatest comeback in NFL history to defeat the Jeff Saturday-led Colts. Kirk Cousins has continued to be very up and down, with the downs mostly coming against high end opponents and/or in primetime games, and the Vikings defense has been abysmal for what you would expect from a team with their record this deep in a season. All of those things are reflected, however, in the fact that the Vikings are underdogs against a team with a losing record who they thoroughly dominated in all phases in Week 1. If you could go back in time and tell anyone who watched that game that the Vikings would be healthy with a 12-3 record at this point in time and getting 3.5 points from that same Packers team, they would likely put a small fortune on the Vikings.
In the first matchup between these teams, it was Justin Jefferson who stole the show. The Vikings moved him all over the formation and got him matched up with linebackers and safeties, while also creating enough confusion in Green Bay’s defense to where Jefferson was left uncovered multiple times. Star cornerback Jaire Alexander has openly discussed his desire to shadow Jefferson and called his Week 1 performance a “fluke” when talking to the media this week. The Packers defense will be left with a predicament, as they will have to decide if they allow the Vikings to get Jefferson in whatever matchups they choose or if they want to change up their scheme from what they’ve done all year (Alexander has rarely shadowed or gone in the slot) for this one matchup. While Alexander is a great player, there is no guarantee he will shut down Jefferson and if they do shadow him they will effectively be deciding to leave him in one-on-one coverage for most of the game – something that could also prove to be a problem against what most people consider to be the best receiver in the game who has totaled 47 targets in his last three games. Likewise, a change in their scheme would likely leave them open in many other areas as the Vikings have several weapons in their arsenal, with TJ Hockenson and KJ Osborn each having a monster game under their belts recently and Adam Thielen always being capable of making high leverage plays despite his aging skill set. The Vikings running game has struggled to consistently produce this season, but the Packers bottom ranked run defense should provide some potential for them to get things going in that area as well and their underrated offensive line should give Dalvin Cook, who has destroyed the Packers throughout much of his career, some room to run. The ability of the Vikings to have an effective running game and the dilemma that Jefferson puts on the Packers defense should put Kirk Cousins in position to have a very good game. His well documented struggles have come primarily in spots where he was asked to do too much in predictable situations against good defenses, and if the Vikings are able to get things going on the ground then Cousins should be able to operate from a clean pocket and dissect a Green Bay defense that was being lit up by the Dolphins play action passing prior to Tua Tagovailoa taking a hit that we now know concussed him.
How GREEN BAY Will Try To Win ::
- Aaron Rodgers’ best game on the season (DK scoring) :: 20.36 (with only two games north of 17.36)
- Allen Lazard’s best game on the season :: 20.6 (only three games north of 14.5)
- Romeo Doubs’ best game on the season :: 21.3 (only three games north of 10.5)
- Randall Cobb’s best game on the season :: 16.9 (only three games north of 7.7)
- If Christian Watson (games of 21.1 // 24.0 // 24.4 // 35.7) indeed misses this week’s game, I have to imagine we’ll see some level of interest from the field flowing to other areas of the Packers’ passing attack, and I can certainly stir my imagination to a point where I start seeing scenarios in which one of these guys hits for a nice game; but on tighter builds, it’s likely “Watson or nothing” for me from this passing attack, as we know by now that the Packers could not care less about how many points they score, and instead care only about whether or not they win. They will gladly grind this game to a halt if they have to, and hope to win this game at the end. I won’t make a stink if you want to play any of these guys, but they won’t be for me.
- The Packers’ backfield is a bit more interesting to me, particularly depending on what news we get around Aaron Jones’ health. If Jones is good to go this week, he’s very attractive to me as a “broad range of outcomes, but high enough ceiling to make the variance worth it” option. And if Jones is expected to be somewhat limited, Dillon becomes interesting for his 16 to 20 touch potential.
- On the Vikings’ side…I have a lot of respect for the Packers’ pass defense, but I also have a lot of respect for Justin Jefferson. On larger-field builds, I would be comfortable mixing and matching a handful of pieces from this passing attack (betting on scenarios in which the Packers keep Jefferson in check, and this leads to someone else from this offense hitting), but on tighter builds, it’s likely “Jefferson or bust” in this passing attack for me. As Mike highlighted: if the Packers use Jaire Alexander in shadow coverage, this still gives us a setup that has “Jefferson blowups” within the range of outcomes, and if the Packers don’t use Jaire in shadow coverage, the Vikings can move their chess piece around to get him open in a variety of ways. Jefferson definitely comes with a broad range of outcomes, but he’s one of the better bets among the high-priced pieces to go for 30+ points this week.
- I also like Dalvin Cook in this spot. He comes with some risk that the Vikings will lighten his workload a bit in a game that almost certainly won’t prove to be critical (perhaps some mid-drive touches going to Mattison), but the ceiling is attractive against a Packers team that has allowed the fourth most RB rushing yards in the NFL while ranking dead last in run defense DVOA. Only Chicago and Houston are facing a higher opponent rush play rate this year than the Packers, and this is a week in which I could see ALL the backs priced above Dalvin finishing below 27 DK points. If that happens, and Dalvin goes for 25 to 28 himself in this spot, he’ll be a really nice piece on this slate.
- Nothing from this game pops to me, but Watson (if he plays), the Green Bay backs, Justin Jefferson, and Dalvin Cook are all very much in the mix for my tighter builds, while there is opportunity in larger-field play for me to get more creative with the ways I approach this game.
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