Welcome to Boom or Bust, a weekly segment where I predict which NFC North players will flourish and which will flounder. In a week one matchup against the Green Bay Packers, the star studded Minnesota Vikings roster is filled with boom or bust candidates. Below are my pick to boom, and more importantly, my pick to bust:
Boom: Za’Darius Smith
No player will be more motivated on Sunday than Za’Darius Smith. Smith was released by the Packers this offseason and has stated his displeasure with this falling out this week. He claims that part of the reason why he signed with the Vikings was to have the opportunity to face the team who he felt did him wrong. Smith will see that opportunity in his first game in Minnesota, and his vengeful energy will be difficult to match. With starting tackles David Bahktiari and Elgton Jenkins coming off of serious knee injuries, they will either be unavailable or at limited strength on Sunday. Facing injured or backup linemen will allow for Smith to wreak havoc on his former team. Not to mention, a scheme change for the Vikings defense means that the Packers will see different fronts from their rivals than they have seen in previous years. Alongside Danielle Hunter, Smith should have plenty of favorable one-on-one matchups. All of these circumstances make it inevitable that his fingerprints will be all over this game.
Bust: Ed Ingram
Ed Ingram winning the starting right guard spot for the Vikings came earlier than most expected, but this could come with growing pains. Ingram’s first test will not be an easy one as he faces one of the best defenses in the league. The Packers’ defensive line is headlined by Pro Bowler Kenny Clark, who has been an unstoppable force in his career against the Vikings. With new additions Jarran Reed and Devonte Wyatt, the Packers defense may hand Ingram an unpleasant debut. The future may be bright for Ingram, but his lack of experience against starting NFL defensive linemen could be problematic. The Vikings-Packers rivalry has often turned into a shootout as of late, which creates an unfavorable game script for Ingram. The more dropbacks for Kirk Cousins, the more opportunities the Packers have to capitalize on Ingram’s inexperience. It seems like the Vikings finally have a long term solution at right guard, but fans should not get their hopes up too high for Week 1.