The Green Bay Packers are set to square off with a divisional opponent this week as they travel to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota to face off against the Vikings — who are a good team, but fail to capitalize when the game is close. Minnesota is 4-5 on the year, but the team has only lost by a combined 18 points in all five of those losses.
The two teams split the series last year, with the Packers winning the high-scoring outing in September — but losing in the November game.
The Vikings have a lot of talent on their roster, which means the Packers have to be focused and dialed in for this game. Here are three players the Packers must shut down against the Vikings to ensure a victory.
1. QB Kirk Cousins
Believe me when I say that I’ve never been one to buy into the Kirk Cousins hype. Sure, he makes some nice throws occasionally and has good mechanics – but he’s extremely inconsistent. But to discredit his play from last year and this year would be a mistake. He’s making the most out of the plethora of weapons that surround him such as Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen.
Cousins’ weakness is something that the Packers have thrived at this year, and that’s creating pressure. If Rashan Gary and Preston Smith are able to get to Cousins, he should become a non-factor. Making him a non-factor takes Jefferson and Thielen out of it too.
2. EDGE Everson Griffin
With Danielle Hunter out for the year due to injury, Everson Griffin has became the main man for the Vikings’ pass rush yet again. He leads the team with 24 pressures on the year and has 5.0 sacks. I expect those numbers to only keep going up with Hunter out of the picture.
David Bakhtiari is doubtful for Sunday’s game, so there’s a chance the Packers could struggle with Griffin.
3. S Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods has always been just an average safety to me, that was until this year. During some film study of the Vikings throughout the week, Woods stands out like a magnet to the football and seems to be involved in every play/tackle.
According to Pro Football Reference, Woods is allowing a stellar 64.4 passer rating on the season. He’s also fantastic in the run game, as he’s second on his team in run stops and third in tackles.
He’s even out-playing fellow safety Harrison Smith – who is widely considered to be a Hall-of-Fame candidate when he hangs it up.