The Vikings won’t have Dalvin Cook, but should find room to run against a suspect Packers defense. That might be enough, especially if Green Bay’s offense sputters in limited opportunities. In another close one against the Packers, Kirk Cousins gets his first career win Monday night.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
There are playoff stakes — sort of
The Vikings and Packers could face off in the first round for the second time in the 2010s. But even if the Vikings win, they’d need a victory over the Bears, and a Packers loss to the Lions, to claim the division title.
Rodgers winless at U.S. Bank
After years of tormenting the Vikings, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has endured the same kind of futility at U.S. Bank Stadium that Brett Favre often used to experience at the Metrodome. Rodgers is 0-3 in the building and has never thrown for more than 213 yards at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Boone gets his shot
With Cook out and Alexander Mattison questionable, RB Mike Boone is in line for his first NFL start. He could have openings against a Packers run defense ranked 28th in the league, in terms of expected points.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Packers WR Davante Adams
Rhodes has shadowed a receiver only once since following Adams in the Vikings’ Week 2 loss at Lambeau Field. Even if he doesn’t shadow Adams, he’s still likely to see plenty of the Packers’ top receiver, who caught seven passes for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Bears last week.
Vikings C Garrett Bradbury vs. Packers DT Kenny Clark
Bradbury’s steady improvement throughout his rookie season stands in contrast to his rough day against the Packers in Week 2, when he gave up five pressures in the loss at Lambeau Field. Clark, who has posted 3½ sacks in the past two weeks, stands as one of the biggest challenges the Vikings will face.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
88.3 Aaron Rodgers’ career passer rating — well below his overall mark of 102.9 — in road games against the Vikings since Mike Zimmer became coach in 2014.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF …
They can run the ball effectively without Cook, and keep the Packers from taking away play-action shots like they did by pressuring Cousins on bootlegs in Week 2. The Vikings will also have to limit the NFL’s second-best red zone offense; Packers RB Aaron Jones has scored 17 times this season.
THE PACKERS WILL WIN IF …
Rodgers can hit big plays against the Vikings’ secondary, the Packers are able to slow down Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen and their defense can limit the run while standing up to the passing game.
Goessling's prediction: Vikings, 23-20
Win probability: 60%