Packers 2020 preview: Vikings reload for division title run

The Packers are entering the 2020 NFL season as the defending NFC North champions, but the Vikings will be one of their biggest obstacles for a repeat.

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings finished the season with a 10-6 record and finished second in the division behind the Green Bay Packers.

They defeated the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round before falling to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round.

The Packers defeated the Vikings in both games last year, 21-16 in Week 2 and 23-10 in Week 16 to clinch the division.

Offseason

This was an offseason with a ton of turnover for the Vikings. They will look like a very different team.

Lost

  • CB Mackensie Alexander – free agent (signed with Cincinnati Bengals)
  • LB Kentrell Brothers – free agent
  • WR Stefon Diggs – traded to Buffalo Bills
  • DE Everson Griffen – free agent
  • DL Linval Joseph – released (signed with Los Angeles Chargers)
  • S Jayron Jerse – free agent (signed with Detroit Lions)
  • G Josh Kline – released
  • TE David Morgan II – released
  • CB Xavier Rhodes – released (signed with Indianapolis Colts)
  • S Andrew Sendejo – free agent (signed with Cleveland Browns)
  • CB Marcus Sherels – free agent
  • WR Laquon Treadwell – free agent (signed with Atlanta Falcons)
  • CB Trae Waynes – free agent (signed with Cincinnati Bengals)
  • DE Stephen Weatherly – free agent (signed with Carolina Panthers)

Additions

  • DT Michael Pierce – (Baltimore Ravens) – 3 years, $27 million
  • WR Tajae Sharpe – (Tennessee Titans) – 1 year, $1 million
  • DE Anthony Zettel – (San Francisco 49ers) – 1 year, $1 million

Draft

  • WR Justin Jefferson – (LSU) – 1st round
  • CB Jeff Gladney – (TCU) – 1st round
  • OT Ezra Cleveland – (Boise St.) – 2nd round
  • CB Cameron Dantzler – (Miss. St.) – 3rd round
  • DE D.J. Wonnum – (South Carolina) – 4th round
  • DT James Lynch – (Baylor) – 4th round
  • LB Troy Dye – (Oregon) – 4th round
  • CB Harrison Hand – (Temple) – 5th round
  • WR K.J. Osborn – (Miami) – 5th round
  • OT Blake Brandel – (Oregon St.) – 6th round
  • S Josh Metellus – (Michigan) – 6th round
  • DE Kenny Willekes – (Michigan St.) – 7th round
  • QB Nate Stanley – (Iowa) – 7th round
  • S Brian Cole II – (Miss. St.) – 7th round
  • G Kyle Hinton – (Washburn) – 7th round

2020 preview

Many people think that while the Vikings have had a ton of turnover, they will still be the biggest threat to the Packers in the NFC, if not the favorite. They certainly have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen returning. They did, however, lose receiver Stefon Diggs after the rocky relationship ultimately ended with a trade to the Buffalo Bills.

On top of Diggs, star running back Cook is reportedly holding out in hopes for a new contract. We’ll see what eventually happens with that situation. You’d think he would see how the Melvin Gordon contract situation ended up and he’d be cautious to follow suit. He does, after all, have Alexander Mattison behind him ready to take snaps if Cook is a no-show. My gut tells me Cook will be there ready to go when Week 1 rolls around.

After the loss of Diggs, the Vikings took LSU star receiver Justin Jefferson with the 21st pick in the draft. On paper, it looks like the Vikings filled that void. In reality, I think the loss of Diggs is a lot bigger than Vikings fans would like to admit.

Diggs consistently killed the Packers during his time in Minnesota. He averaged about five catches, 73 yards and one touchdown per game in nine career games against the Packers. He always seemed to be a thorn in the Packers’ side. Losing Diggs may be a big problem for the Vikings while Jefferson gets adjusted to the NFL.

The Vikings’ defense has been great since head coach Mike Zimmer came to Minneapolis. They are consistently a top-10 defense. That defensive unit will look very different in the 2020 season.

Players who were big stars for them just a few years ago like Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Linval Joseph are all gone now. It will be tough to replace those players. Granted, those players weren’t playing at the same level they were just two years ago, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the players they brought in to replace them will.

Losing their top three cornerbacks from a year ago could create some problems for their secondary. They will depend on their great safety duo of Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris to keep that secondary playing at a high level.

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Even with the big changes in Minnesota, I would still expect the Vikings to be a solid team that will likely challenge the Packers in the NFC North and will remain a playoff contender in the NFC. The Packers will be tested by the Vikings early, opening the season in Minnesota in Week 1. They will then play host in Week 8.

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