The reality of all NFL analysis is that it ignores the crucial aspect of coaches' gameplanning.

We don't know what their plan is, so emphasizing a certain matchup might prove to be the wrong approach.

That being said, as the Star Tribune team gathers in the U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time since the end of the 2019 regular season, there is one matchup that intrigues me above all others, and it doesn't involve quarterbacks, receivers or cornerbacks.

It's the Packers' running game against the Vikings' defensive front.

The last time these teams played, the Packers won, 23-10, at U.S. Bank Stadium to clinch the division title. Running back Aaron Jones rushed 23 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Now Jones and the Packers' offense will face a Vikings' defensive front lacking nosetackle Linval Joseph (who left as a free agent), nosetackle Michael Pierce (who was slated to replace Joseph before opting out of the season because of health concerns) and star defensive end Danielle Hunter (who is on injured reserve.)

Can the Vikings' defense stop Jones without them? Or will the urgency to stop Jones cause Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to commit extra bodies to run defense, leaving a group of young cornerbacks vulnerable to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' passing game?

Arfter the draft and the Vikings' signing of Pierce, I thought the Vikings had passed the Packers. I loved the Vikings' draft and hated the Packers', and I figured the Vikings would win the opener in front of a rowdy crowd.

The lack of fans in the stands, PIerce's opt-out, Hunter's injury and the absence of preseason games in which the Vikings' rookie cornerbacks and receivers could have matured has changed my mind.

I think the Packers will win today and win the division.

Unless the Vikings can stop the Packers' run today, and mature quickly.

Despite the pandemic, the Star Tribune has our full team at U.S. Bank Stadium today - Ben Goessling, Andrew Kramer, Mark Craig, Chip Scoggins and our photography team. Please check out Startribune.com for preview, live game and postgame coverage.

@Souhanstrib

Older Post

Boxing: James fight brings viewers