Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- TE Luke Musgrave has yet to practice (as of Thursday) with an ankle injury.
- CB Jaire Alexander was downgraded from limited to ‘DNP’ Thursday, while Eric Stokes and Darnell Savage were placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
- RB Aaron Jones got in a limited session Thursday and a ‘DNP’ Wednesday.
- TE T.J. Hockenson upgraded from ‘DNP’ to limited Thursday.
- Both the Packers and Vikings rank in the bottom 10 in the league in opponent plays per game, which is simultaneously telling regarding their offense and defense.
How minnesota Will Try To Win ::
The Vikings continue to be one of the highest pass-rate-over-expectation (PROE) teams in the league, currently trailing only the Bengals and Chiefs in that metric. But a fourth-ranked 26.9 seconds per play and extreme pass-heavy tendencies (league-low 19.1 rush attempts per game) have led to the potential for additional offensive plays run from scrimmage in games the Vikings are involved in. Kirk Cousins leads the league in total pass attempts, ranks second in yards, and fifth in total intended air yards (IAY), albeit with a modest 7.4 intended air yards per pass attempt (IAY/PA). Basically, the Vikings have been extremely fast and pass-leaning, but largely incapable or unwilling to attack downfield at great frequency, which has left them reliant on stringing drives together through the air – which has, in turn, led to low average time of possession and below average offensive plays run from scrimmage per game. The good news here is that Joe Barry’s mega-prevent defensive scheme has held opposition to a 6.2-yard defensive aDOT this season, which aligns with how the Vikings should be looking to attack this game. Furthering the potential here is a banged up Packers secondary as Alexander was downgraded from limited to ‘DNP’ on Thursday, while Savage and Stokes were both placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Jonathan Owens and Rudy Ford are not on the same level of talent as those two are, and Alexander’s absence would likely force Keisean Nixon into a perimeter role, unless the Packers want to play one of two 2023 seventh-round picks on the perimeter.
Cam Akers worked his way into 39 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 7, his highest rate of the season while with Minnesota. He saw 13 running back opportunities to 11 for Mattison, which could continue forward as a strict timeshare considering head coach Kevin O’Connell’s propensity to take a while to either admit mistakes or change personnel (more on that later when we talk about rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison playing behind K.J. freaking Osborn – I digress). Either way, the clearest path to moving the ball against the Packers remains on the ground, although we know the Vikings largely base their attack through the air. The fact the Vikings have a season high of 24 team rush attempts through seven games played should be a clear indication that the upside from the backfield is rather limited, particularly considering the Minnesota offensive line has blocked to just 1.21 yards before contact.
Continuing the discussion from above, the defensive tendencies from the Packers align naturally with how the Vikings are likely to approach this game on offense – and now the Packers will certainly be without two starters in the secondary while another was downgraded mid-week in practice to a ‘DNP.’ The Vikings have turned to elevated rates of 21-personnel in the absence of Justin Jefferson, with Osborn playing nearly every offensive snap (lolz), electric rookie Addison in a 75-85 percent snap rate role alongside Hockenson, and Brandon Powell in a 60 percent snap rate role. Josh Oliver and Johnny Mundt are primarily blockers but share the 40-60 percent snap rate left over from the 12-personnel rates. Osborn is very good… at running empty routes and dropping passes. Sorry, I had to. Addison was arguably the most pro-ready wide receiver to come out of this year’s draft class. I’m not adept at KOC math, but that doesn’t add up to me. Either way, O’Connell has been known to be stubborn when it comes to personnel decisions, which we alluded to when speaking to the running back situation. As far as upside goes, Addison and Hockenson are the two likeliest to take advantage of the soft zone concepts of Barry’s defense.