Green Bay’s (2-2) win over Chicago on Sunday helped their fans R-E-L-A-X a bit as the offense stormed out and played a near perfect game. There were some questions on defense to begin allowing 17 early points to Chicago but some sound halftime adjustments and opportune turnovers led to a second half shutout and a 38-17 Packers win. On a short week the Vikings come to Titletown and they seem to have found some stability of their own as QB Teddy Bridgewater got a win Sunday over Atlanta in his first NFL start.
The last time the teams met it was an ugly 26-26 tie that screwed with sportscasters and win/loss record predictors the rest of the season. Oddsmakers are expecting no ‘kissing of the sister’ this time around as they have put Green Bay as early -8.5 favorites.
Minnesota Plan of Attack
Bridgewater was impressive in his NFL debut, lighting up the soft Atlanta secondary for 317 yards while adding 27 yards and a TD on the ground without turning the ball over. The rookie out of Louisville did suffer a sprained ankle Sunday and the short week definitely doesn’t help, but Teddy B is expected to be under center Thursday night. Bridgewater’s ball security will once again be important Thursday as Chicago didn’t punt once on Sunday against the Packers but was crushed by two Jay Cutler interceptions. Chicago ran for 235 yards on the ground versus Green Bay’s 32nd rated rush defense, something that brightens the eyes of Minnesota’s 8th rated ground arsenal featuring the likes of Matt Asiata and home-run htter Jerick McKinnon
Green Bay Game Plan
Much like in Gladiator if you can “win the crowd you’ll win your freedom” if you “stop Aaron Rodgers you’ll likely stop the Pack Attack.” The QB who insisted Green Bay fans relax during a press conference last week served up his own dose of Ambien for them, going 22/28 for 302 yards and 4 TD against the Bears. Chicago hardly dirtied Rodgers’ game pants but Minnesota has gotten a good pass rush from rookie OLB Anthony Barr who has 2 sacks through his first 4 NFL games which could be a key to causing havoc for #12. If Rodgers has time, look for him to find Jordy Nelson early and often as the WR leads the NFL in receptions (33) and yards (459). The Vikings have a much improved secondary (17th in the NFL in pass yards) that could contain Nelson, something none of Green Bay’s opponents thus far have been able to do.
Bridgewater played well in a Sunday afternoon home game, but let’s see how the rookie reacts on the road with the entire country watching on Thursday Night Football. Green Bay also has a week of film on Bridgewater and the QB is battling an ankle injury which compounds his difficulties. That being said an under-the-radar breakout star of the game could be Minnesota rookie RB Jerick McKinnon, a physical freak who scored one of the highest rankings on the NFL SPARQ test since Calvin Johnson. McKinnon ran for 135 yards on 18 carries against Atlanta and should have amble room to run against Green Bay’s rush defense, therefore taking the pressure off Bridgewater. Minnesota hasn’t won in Green Bay since 2009, but they don’t have to – in fact a tie would be nice.
Pick: Minnesota +8.5