fbpx

Vikings vs Packers: NFC North rivalry carries intrigue for both teams

Vikings vs Packers Week 11 NFL game preview

The Green Bay Packers can increase their lead atop the NFC North standings when they visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis.

Green Bay (8-2) is coming off a 17-0 win at home against the Seattle Seahawks, which marked their eighth victory in the past nine weeks. The Packers have a 3 1/2 game lead in the division and are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the best record in the NFC entering Week 11.

Minnesota (4-5) knows that a win against a division opponent could be a major boost. A win would put the Vikings’ record back to .500 and strengthen its chances of making a late run for a postseason berth.

Related: Predicting NFL playoff teams and Super Bowl 2022 winner

Vikings vs Packers: Can Aaron Rodgers own Minnesota too?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Nov 1, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) gets a pass away while under pressure from Minnesota Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum (98) in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur expects both teams to carry plenty of motivation into Sunday.

“I think both teams look at it the same way: It’s a great opportunity,” LaFleur said.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes a second straight start since missing the team’s loss at Kansas City. He completing 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception last week against Seattle. Rodgers has passed for 2,186 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions on the season.

Packers running back AJ Dillon will get the bulk of the work in the backfield with Aaron Jones (knee) out this week.

Dillon has been more than capable in reserve. He goes for his fourth game in a row with at least 75 yards from scrimmage. Dillon racked up a season-high 128 scrimmage yards (66 rushing, 62 receiving) and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns last week.

Vikings vs Packers: Mike Zimmer knows how to make AR12 uncomfortable

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 25, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks on from the field prior to the game against Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s difficult for defenses to focus on Dillon when Rodgers is slinging the ball. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said “every play is a fight” when No. 12 is on the other side.

“He’s extremely smart,” Zimmer said. “Obviously Rodgers is one of the best of all time. Takes all the time at the line of scrimmage that he can, especially on third down. He’s got good vision — can put the place any place he wants to. It’s … every play is a fight. Every play is a fight.”

Packers linebacker Rashan Gary will try to notch a sack for the third game in a row. Gary has 5.5 sacks this season, which is a career best.

The Vikings also are seeking back-to-back wins after posting a 27-20 road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers last week. All but one of their nine games have been decided by single digits.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for 294 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. He has 2,434 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and two interceptions this season.

Dalvin Cook has a team-high 648 rushing yards and three touchdowns in seven games. Teammate Justin Jefferson leads the receiving corps with 55 catches for 775 yards and four touchdowns in nine contests.

Minnesota also could get a boost on defense after veteran safety Harrison Smith was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Cornerback Patrick Peterson also returned to practice this week after spending several weeks on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury.

Rookie Camryn Bynum, who started in Smith’s spot, still could see playing time this weekend.

“We’ll just see how it goes,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s done a good job, but Harrison’s a good player, so it’s nice to have somebody who can go in and spell him.”

Green Bay has won three of its past four games against Minnesota.

“There’s just a lot of football left,” Cousins said. “As long as there’s football games left, it’s what’s up ahead that tells the story than what’s behind.”

LaFleur is braced for a tough challenge inside of U.S. Bank Stadium.

“They’ve been ahead in every game this year,” LaFleur said. “I think every (loss) has come down to one possession. We know that this is a very, very talented team. There are a lot of weapons offensively. Defensively, they’re doing a great job getting after the quarterback. I think Mike Zimmer, I think he’s one of the best in the game. …

“It’s going to be a good test for us on the road in that environment. It’s a tough place to play.”

Related: NFL MVP odds 2021 – Tom Brady aims for fourth MVP trophy

–Field Level Media