A Packers offense that posted 41 points against the Vikings in Week 1 won’t have running back Aaron Jones on Sunday, and wind could make things more difficult for Aaron Rodgers. But he gets four more quarters with the Vikings’ rookie corners, and the Packers’ offense will still be too much for the Vikings.
THREE BIG STORY LINES
Rodgers vs. the rookies
The Vikings got Cameron Dantzler back from the COVID-19 reserve list on Saturday. With Mike Hughes and Holton Hill out, the team will use third-rounder Dantzler, first-rounder Jeff Gladney and fifth-rounder Harrison Hand, as well as Kris Boyd, practice-squad addition Mark Fields and possibly Lions pickup Chris Jones against Rodgers.
Cook could return for another big day
Dalvin Cook was a full participant in practice Friday, and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said this week he didn’t think the running back would need a limited role after recovering from a groin injury. If Cook is ready for a full workload, he’ll be a key element of the Vikings offense in the stadium where he ran for 154 yards a year ago.
Subdued border battle starts division run
With COVID-19 cases spiking in northeast Wisconsin, the Packers won’t have fans at Lambeau Field. It means Kirk Cousins could enjoy the same environment Rodgers did at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 1, as Cousins tries to win for the first time at Lambeau.
TWO KEY MATCHUPS
Vikings secondary vs. Packers WR Davante Adams
Adams tied Don Hutson’s franchise record with 14 receptions in Week 1, as Rodgers looked for his favorite target all afternoon. He did much of his damage against Hill, who’s out with a foot injury, but Adams’ effectiveness at the line of scrimmage and chemistry with Rodgers means the receiver can often exploit the smallest mistakes in opposing secondaries.
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Packers CB Josh Jackson
Assuming Jaire Alexander spends much of the day matched up with Adam Thielen — who’s had some memorable battles with the Packers’ best corner — Jefferson could have a favorable matchup against Jackson with Kevin King out because of a quadriceps injury. Jackson has struggled in coverage during his career in Green Bay, particularly against receivers who can stretch him downfield. The Vikings rookie talked last week about how much more comfortable he is in the offense since the last time Minnesota faced Green Bay.
ONE STAT THAT MATTERS
73.6 Cousins’ passer rating in three games against the Packers since Matt LaFleur, Cousins’ former QB coach in Washington, took over in Green Bay. The Vikings have lost all three games.
THE VIKINGS WILL WIN IF…
Cousins can play turnover-free football, Cook has a productive enough day to keep the Vikings from operating in third-and-long, Jefferson and Thielen win on downfield routes secondary, and the depleted defense finds a way to keep Rodgers from operating at his leisure for the second time this season.
THE PACKERS WILL WIN IF…
Rodgers is as comfortable in the pocket as he was last time the two teams played (it’s worth noting that left tackle David Bakhtiari is questionable with a chest injury), the Packers can run the ball with Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillion, and Kenny Clark, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith dictate the game amid the Vikings’ offensive line struggles.
GOESSLING'S PREDICTION: Packers 38, Vikings 27