Another week, another one-score victory. It is actually ridiculous at this point how the Vikings manage to keep winning one-score game after one-score game. They have now moved to an increasingly improbable 11-0 in games decided by one score. Now the Vikings have an opportunity to squash their rival Green Bay Packers’ playoff hopes at Lambeau this coming Sunday. Here are three keys to the Vikings emerging with their 13th victory of the season.
1. Dare Them to Stop Justin Jefferson
In Week One, Packers’ defensive coordinator Joe Barry took the bold approach of rarely doubling Justin Jefferson. It seems like a safe assumption that he should take a different approach this time around as last time Jefferson had nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. On Thursday, Packers’ cornerback Jaire Alexander said that Jefferson’s Week One performance was a “fluke”. If Barry doesn’t adjust his strategy Jefferson might pass 2000 yards in Week 17 alone (he needs 244). The plan on Sunday should be to feed Jefferson until the Packers prove that they can slow him down and then rely on secondary options to create a more balanced attack.
2. Another Za’Darius Smith Revenge Game
In his first game returning to Green Bay, Za’Darius Smith was able to get one sack and will be looking for more this weekend. The Packers’ offensive line has been banged up all year but should be getting stalwart tackle David Bahktiari back this weekend. If the Vikings defense wants to be able to find success against Aaron Rodgers and Company they are going to have to find ways to get consistent pressure and that all starts with Smith off the edge. If Smith and Danielle Hunter can disrupt Rodgers often enough it will help the struggling secondary against a Packers’ receiving group that has been better as of late. Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter are always going to make the pass rush go round but they are also going to need the help of Dalvin Tomlinson, Harrison Phillips, and rotational guys like D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones to keep Rodgers uncomfortable all day long.
3. Actually Show Up For a Game You are Underdogs In
All three of the Vikings’ losses this year have come in games where they were underdogs according to the betting lines. These losses have shown a lack of effort at times (or in the case of the Cowboys game the entirety of the game) and resulted in disappointing or even embarrassing losses. The 12-3 Vikings are once again underdogs as they travel to Lambeau to take on the 7-8 Packers. The effort in this game needs to be higher as the Vikings still have plenty to play for. First of all, the number one seed may still be in play at the time of this game. It is unlikely, as the Eagles would need to lose their last two games, but as they are potentially without Jalen Hurts, anything is possible. If the one seed becomes unattainable they are still fending off the 49ers for the second overall seed in the NFC and will likely need to win out to maintain that positioning. And finally they should take this opportunity to potentially eliminate the Packers from playoff contention altogether on their own turf which should be more than motivating for the Vikings’ locker room.
Justin Jefferson and the Vikings offense are too much for the surging Packers as the Vikings find their just their 2nd multi-score win of the year against a familiar foe. Vikings 36, Packers 24