Three Keys To Week 1: Vikings vs. Packers

The Minnesota Vikings open the 2022 season at home against their rival Green Bay Packers. Here are the 3 keys to the Vikings coming out of U.S. Bank Stadium with a victory.

1. Generate Solid Pass Rush
The Minnesota Vikings cornerback room is extremely inexperienced and will likely get off to a slow start. The best way to remedy that is by generating a consistent pass rush. No, I am not talking six or seven sacks on the day, just creating pressure for Aaron Rodgers on a regular basis, making his throws just that much harder. Rodgers is coming off back-to-back MVP campaigns, but last year, pressure seemed to be his kryptonite. While under pressure in 2021, Aaron Rodgers posted a QBR of 9 (ranked 26th in the NFL), a completion percentage of 38% (29th), and a yards-per-attempt of 3.7 (last). So it is clear that if Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, and the rest of the defensive line can generate a pass rush all day long, Aaron Rodgers could be in some trouble and the cornerback room will have a much easier day.

2. Feed Dalvin Cook
Many of the storylines around the Vikings coming into this game are going to be around Kevin O’Connell and his shiny new passing attack with Kirk Cousins airing it out to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, but that does not mean they should shy away from a more balanced attack. The Green Bay Packers know better than anyone that Dalvin Cook can put the Vikings on his back and win a game. We are 2 years removed from Cook’s dominant 220-yard, 4 TD performance in a 28-22 victory at Lambeau Field. If Dalvin Cook can get going early and often, it will force the Green Bay defense to commit to stopping the run which will allow Cousins to do what he does best, play action. Thielen, Jefferson, and Osborn will be able to get open downfield and create some big plays with fewer double teams at the defense’s disposal.

3. No Mistakes on Special Teams
It is no secret that the Vikings have struggled on special teams in recent history. This is a tradition from the Zimmer Era that I’m sure new coach Kevin O’Connell hopes to leave behind. A match-up against the reigning division is going to be hard enough as is, special teams mishaps would just make the task at hand that much more difficult. Through training camp and preseason, Greg Joseph has been very solid giving hope that the Vikings may have found a solution at kicker. The punt return situation, however, seems to be more of a cause for concern. Jalen Reagor seems to be the guy for now. He has shown a lot of explosiveness in the return game but had a few muffs in 2021. Escaping week one converting 100% on kicks and without any muffed punts would be a huge victory for the start of the O’Connell regime in Minnesota.
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