As the 2022 NFL season just barely gets underway, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers fans suddenly find themselves in the midst of a crucial, potentially division-winning battle. Over their last eleven matchups, each team has defeated the other five times, with a surprising tie between the rivals in 2018. While the Packers have had much more overall success over the past few years, the Vikings seem to always be able to answer back at a consistent rate. Under new head coach Kevin O’Connell, this trend will continue.
The Green Bay Packers, with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, will always be a force in the NFL. Rodgers’ accuracy, arm strength, and football IQ have terrorized defenses for years, and the back-to-back MVP has shown no signs of slowing down. Additionally, a defense that gave up 34 points in Minnesota last year has been revamped, with the return of elite CB Jaire Alexander and the addition of first-round draft picks Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt. That being said, key pieces of the Packers offense have been lost. With Davante Adams being traded to Las Vegas, there is a massive hole at wide receiver, and with injuries to Allen Lazard and rookie Christian Watson, the Packers have not filled this hole by any means. Furthermore, the Packers offensive line, which has historically been among the best in the league, has been facing difficulties. LT David Bakhtiari has barely seen the field over the past two years due to an ACL tear, while starting RT Elgton Jenkins has also faced injuries over the offseason. With both of these key players seeing action for the first time in a while this Sunday, assuming they feel healthy enough to suit up as it is, there will be growing pains that the Vikings hope to take advantage of.
The players ready to take advantage of the Packers’ offensive line struggles are Pro Bowl OLBs Danielle Hunter and Za’darius Smith. This new tandem, with plenty of experience playing at an elite level, aims to finally put Aaron Rodgers under pressure, which is something the Vikings have struggled with in the past. On the other side of the ball, a similar Vikings offense as in years past hopes to continue to function at a high level. Although the offensive line has been shaky at best and will cause pass-protection issues for the Vikings on Sunday, talented players like Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, led by an offensive mind in O’Connell, should put plenty of points on the board. One of the biggest questions for the Vikings comes on defense, as the cornerback room is young and inexperienced. While Rodgers will take advantage of this weakness, the secondary will face the weakest Packers receivers it has seen in a while.
With Aaron Rodgers leading the way, a win against the Packers will be difficult to claim. However, Green Bay had serious offensive struggles in the first game of the previous season, a trend that may continue as many of the key starters did not play in the preseason. On the other hand, the Vikings, with revenge-seeking former Packers Chandon Sullivan and Za’darius Smith, as well as newfound passion and excitement established under Kevin O’Connell, have a fire in them that may just be impossible to stop in the season opener. The Vikings will grind out a victory, 29-27.