Thursday, October 02, 2014

Week 5: Packers vs. Vikings on Thursday Night

A few weeks out since their first and only home game of the 2014 NFL season and just a few days removed from their beat-down of the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers return home tonight to take on the Minnesota Vikings.

Do we know what to expect from this ViQueens team? For that matter, do we know what to expect yet from this Packers team? I think we saw glimpses of what the Packers offense can be when almost all cylinders are firing: great performances from the offensive line in terms of pass protection and great performances from QB Aaron Rodgers and the receiving corps, especially Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. But we still are waiting to see what happens once the Packers can get their running game going. That still seems stuck in low gear.
Packers RB Eddie Lacy is still getting used to running out of the shotgun formation. Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Of course, we also saw a schizophrenic Packers defense, giving up more than 500 yards in total offense to Chicago, including more than 200 rushing yards, generally gained right up the middle. Still, the Packers defense intercepted "Smokin'" Jay Cutler twice and shut down a dangerous Bears offense entirely in the second half.

While the Packers are 7-1-1 against the 'Queens since 2010, their new head coach Mike Zimmer was 2-0 against the Packers when he was defensive coordinator with the Bengals and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has certainly been around the block. He helped engineer three straight wins against the Pack when he was OC with the Cowboys...but that was almost a generation ago: 1991-93.

This is not a cakewalk game for the Pack by any means. The 'Queens have several solid performers on defense and two running backs, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, who combined for 213 yards rushing on Sunday against the Falcons. Even without Adrian Peterson, the Packers will be challenged to once again figure out a way to stop the run. So far, the results have not been good in that regard.

Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater had a bit of a breakout performance against the Falcons, throwing for more than 300 yards and leading Minnesota to a win at home against Atlanta. But he sprained an ankle and the expectation is that he will not play tonight. Instead, the Packers will likely face Christian Ponder, who had a good performance in Green Bay last season.

Prediction Time!
The weather conditions at Lambeau Field this evening might be wet. Thunderstorms are in the forecast. Who gets the advantage in those conditions? Theoretically, it goes to the members of the offense who all supposedly know where they are going on each play while the defense has to react. If this is the case tonight, which offense has the upper hand? C'mon. The Packers, of course.

The Packers are anywhere from 8 to 8-1/2-point favorites at the time of this writing.

We're calling this one 38-24 in favor of the Packers.

If conditions are very bad, that score could be held down. But the outcome will not change. The Packers pick up their third win of the season tonight.

Go Pack Go!!!