The injury-plagued Green Bay Packers have officially moved into the #2 seed in the NFC following the 31-34 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
This is the first NFC North game the Packers have lost this year. In a hard-fought game, it is easy to be blind to the good when you only see the bad.
In this article, I will outline both the positives and the negatives of a loss inside your own division – and what Packers fans can look forward to moving into Week 12.
Positives of the loss against the Vikings
AJ Dillon – Dillon has looked good and although the Packers didn’t rely heavily on the run game against the Vikings, his hands worked in big moments.
Dillon didn’t catch much at Boston College, but in his rookie season he worked with two great receiving backs in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Dillon’s hands are looking surefire this season as he has made some catches that would have been difficult to catch for most running backs. If he keeps producing like he has been the last two weeks, he should be a solid back to replace Aaron Jones.
MVS – Coming off of a hip injury that left him out since Week 3, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was eased into playing against the Seattle Seahawks. With the injury to Allen Lazard, MVS used this opportunity to get a big score on the first play of a drive in the fourth quarter for 75 yards.
MVS has always been a deep threat, but with him being back in the lineup, his speed could free up Davante Adams and Lazard for great plays underneath. MVS looks like a solid WR2 in the Packers’ offense when he is healthy.
Aaron Rodgers – Coming on strong in the second half, Rodgers looked amazing, throwing for 385 yards and four touchdowns over the course of the game. He looked like his 2020 MVP-self.
While there was some pressure at times, Rodgers looked good on his feet, even running for a big gain. The way Rodgers can maneuver in the pocket while working with a bad toe is promising for the Packers.
Although Rodgers has only practiced once since returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list, he has been looking amazing. Rodgers’ play this week was recognized as he was nominated for the FedEx Air Player of the Week award.
Davante Adams – Although his production this year has slowed down slightly compared to his amazing 2020 season, Adams is still showing himself to be the most consistent and productive receiver in the league.
On a big contract year, Adams is catching the ball with ease and making cornerbacks miss like usual. Adams came in clutch catching a big touchdown on a poorly-timed snap, reducing the lead from the Vikings down to seven. With Adams playing this well, it is no doubt that he will receive a huge contract from the Packers or another team.
Negatives of the loss against the Vikings
Injuries – Pro Bowl offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins suffered a season-ending ACL injury against the Vikings on Sunday. This is the third season-ending ACL injury on this Packers offense, and while they looked red-hot in the second half, this injury will leave another void on the offensive line.
While David Bakhtiari could potentially able to come back to LT in the next couple of weeks, there is some doubt if he will be able to play. Currently, there will be inexperienced players in the LT, RG, and LG spots of the offensive line.
Injuries have been a big problem for this Packers team as a whole, as they are already missing Jaire Alexander, Aaron Jones, and Robert Tonyan. If the injury bug continues to affect this Packers team, they could be out of the running for the Super Bowl.
Void at RB2 – With the injury to Aaron Jones, there is now a depth problem at RB2. The Packers use a lot of two-RB sets and tend to bring in AJ Dillon in certain situations, but Patrick Taylor coming in behind Dillon is not a good choice.
Taylor got his first two rushes in his career in the game against the Seahawks and didn’t do much against the Vikings, only rushing for 11 yards on four attempts. Either Taylor needs to start producing behind Dillon or the Packers should pick up another RB as Jones recovers from injury.
Defense – While the defense was red-hot coming into this game, they were exposed, giving up 251 yards to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen on 16 combined receptions. Eric Stokes shadowed Jefferson on an important touchdown play.
There were a couple plays throughout the game where Stokes looked like he didn’t know who he was covering or what zone he was playing. Overall, the Packers played to stop Dalvin Cook, which allowed Kirk Cousins to throw against the cornerbacks. There were some issues towards the end of the game, like Darnell Savage’s dropped interception which would have effectively won the game for the Packers’
Aaron Rodgers – While Rodgers’ play in the second half warrants him being on the positive list, there are two issues with his play against the Vikings. Coming into the game, the offense was looking sloppy and was off to a slow start. Rodgers seemed to overthrow the ball on some easy passes and was pressured way too often. The toe injury is also a concern, as stated by Rodgers:
"“It’s very, very painful. Got stepped on the first half, and that kind of activated all the symptoms I was having. It’s going to be another painful week and next week, and then hopefully start to feel a little better on the bye.” – Aaron Rodgers said postgame."
We do not know the full extent of the injury. Remember, Patrick Willis retired because of a toe injury. While it seems like a manageable injury, it can be very difficult to play with.
Field goal unit – Once again, Mason Crosby missed an opportunity to add three points to the scoreboard with a missed 32-yard kick in the first quarter. In kicker rankings this season, Crosby ranks 33rd in the NFL for field-goal percentage.
Throughout his career, Crosby has been clutch and even went on a stretch of 23 field goals made without missing in the postseason. Even though Crosby is currently in a slump, the blame doesn’t only fall on him. Although the special teams for the Packers has been pretty bad for years now, Crosby usually is automatic, but this season he has been struggling with field goals.