Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2021 Week 11

A divisional matchup is on deck for the Packers this week, traveling to U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Here are six things to know before the NFC North contest: 

1. Dillon Gets the Keys

Running back AJ Dillon posted on his Twitter account that he got a key to Door County this past week. With Aaron Jones suffering an MCL sprain and missing a few weeks, Dillon may also be getting the keys to the Packers offense. 

Averaging 4.3 yards per carry, Dillon has rushed 97 times this season for 421 yards and two touchdowns. In the receiving game, he’s also been active, hauling in 16 receptions for 196 yards and an additional score. Dillon’s most productive game of the season came against Seattle last week where he had 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns with an additional 62 yards through the air, including a career-long 50-yard reception. 

Dillon has huge shoes to fill, though, as Jones has been such an integral part of Green Bay’s offense. He leads the team in total touchdowns with seven (three rushing, four receiving), and he’s second on the team in receptions (37) behind only Davante Adams (65), who we’ll talk about in No. 4. 

Dillon will be up to the task, however, as he’s third on the team in scrimmage yards with 617, behind only Jones (839) and Adams (864). Receiver Randall Cobb is fourth on the team, after a large gap, with 266 total yards and four touchdowns. 

2. The North Remembers

Head Coach Matt LaFleur is 13-1 against the NFC North in his tenure with the Packers. The Vikings gave him his only loss last season at Lambeau Field, winning 28-22. Having already beat the Lions and Bears once this season, the Vikings are next up for Green Bay. Per the dope sheet, the Packers have a 30-29 record against the Vikings in away games.

What’s more, the Packers enter the week with a franchise-record seven-game winning streak in road division games. That’s tied for the longest current road divisional winning streak in the league with the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans. 

At 8-2, the Packers have a 3.5-game lead over the second place 4-5 Vikings. With a win on Sunday, Green Bay would climb to a 4.5-game lead with only six games left to play in the regular season, all but securing the NFC North and locking up a home playoff game in the process. 

It’s also important for the Packers to keep pace with the rest of the NFC. Green Bay is the current No. 1 seed in the NFC, with the Cardinals (8-2) and Rams (7-3) close behind. Dropping a game to an NFC opponent could affect tiebreaker procedures down the line. 

3. “We Got a Defense”

The proclamation from Aaron Rodgers in 2019 has become even truer in the team’s third season under LaFleur, this time with a new defensive coordinator in Joe Barry. The Packers defense ranks third in the NFL in points against, allowing only 18 points per game. That includes the Week 1 blowout where the team lost 38-3. Excluding that game, it becomes an even more impressive 15.8 points per game average. 

The Packers are fourth in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-seven. In fact, Green Bay’s 11 turnovers through 10 games ties the team’s entire output from the 2020 season. Nine different Packers have snagged interceptions this year, with De’Vondre Campbell and Adrian Amos leading the pack with two each. 

On the front end, the Packers are getting productivity from a number of pass rushers. Rashan Gary leads the team with 5.5 sacks through 10 weeks, while Dean Lowry, Preston Smith, and Kenny Clark are all tied in second with three sacks apiece. The team has 24 total sacks on the season and five forced fumbles.

4. Top 2 Not 2

Per the dope sheet, Adams has nine touchdowns in his last eight games against the Vikings. His 10 career touchdowns against Minnesota are the most he has against a single opponent. While his 2021 touchdown total (three) might not jump off the page like it did in 2020 (18), he’s still posting ridiculous numbers. 

In nine games, Adams has 65 receptions for 864 yards. That’s an average of 96 yards per game, which would rank second in his career behind only the 2020 season when he averaged 98.1 yards per game. Adams is on pace for 1,534 yards this season, which would set a new franchise record eclipsing Jordy Nelson’s total from 2014 of 1,519 yards. 

This season, Minnesota’s defense has given up some big numbers to wide receivers, primarily on explosive plays. Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase had five receptions with a long of 50 for 101 yards and one touchdown. Arizona’s Rondale Moore hauled in seven catches for 114 yards and a score with a long of 77 yards. And against Dallas, both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb had over 100 receiving yards, with Cedrick Wilson Jr. posting a career-long 73-yard reception against the Vikings defense. 

Even with Minnesota’s secondary getting healthy, Adams could be in for a big day. In the Packers’ last game against the Vikings, Adams scored all three of Green Bay’s touchdowns. 

5. Countless Close Contests

While the Vikings are 4-5, they’ve played in some incredibly close games this season. All but one game, a 30-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks, has been a one-score game, with three matchups going all the way to overtime (the Vikings are 1-2 in overtime this season). 

On the opposite sideline, the Packers have only been involved in four one-score games this season, with one coming in a loss against the Chiefs in Week 9. Green Bay remains undefeated this season when winning the turnover battle, posting two or more turnovers in seven of eight wins this year. 

6. Home Sweet Home? 

The Vikings are 2-2 at home this season and 2-3 on the road, but the stats tell a tale of two teams. In Minnesota’s five road games, the team has averaged 29.8 points per game. At home, the Vikings are only averaging 14.4 points per game. 

For the Packers, it’s the opposite. Green Bay is averaging 25.8 points per game at home but only 18.3 points per game on the road. This could be a low-scoring, black and blue-type game for the NFC North rivals. 

The Packers have already played six road contests with the seventh coming on Sunday. But after this week, Green Bay will host the Rams, have a bye week, and then host the Bears. They won’t hit the road again until Week 15 against the Ravens. After that, the Packers will host the Browns and Vikings before wrapping up the regular season in Week 18 in Detroit against the Lions. 

Green Bay’s daunting road stretch comes to a close against the Vikings, and then the Packers get to finish the back third of the season primarily at home in the Frozen Tundra. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

9 points

Comments (10)

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jclombardi's picture

November 19, 2021 at 08:04 am

Where is Perri (Goldstein) at? Hopefully no close drama. JC

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Spock's picture

November 19, 2021 at 08:02 am

Always enjoy your stuff, Maggie! The Vikings close game losses make their 4-5 record a bit deceiving. I expect a close game as well. GPG!

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mrtundra's picture

November 19, 2021 at 08:41 am

I think our secondary eats deep Kark passes alive. Cook can be contained, as well. I look for a solid game from the Packers in another division victory. Packers 28 vikings 13. Somebody, please, hack that viking horn to say "GO PACK, GO!!!"

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Coldworld's picture

November 19, 2021 at 09:30 am

Duplicate post removed

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Coldworld's picture

November 19, 2021 at 09:31 am

To win this, we have to get to Cousins. The Vikings have a weak O line statistically. Can we penetrate there consistently and also contain Cook? If so, game over, but it is a bigger ask than I expected before last week’s injuries. We need a big game from our DL.

I am personally hoping to see Dillon give them a taste of their own medicine with help from Taylor and suck defenders in to the box and tire them.

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jont's picture

November 19, 2021 at 09:29 am

Good point about the Vikes' O-line. GB has been getting pressure with four fairly well and has shown the ability to contain good runners. If we see this on Sunday, it should be a win.
Indeed, after the shut-out capped a very good three game run for the D, I am as confident of this victory as I have been all season... but the Pack is only a one point favorite.
I'm thinking 24-14 or so.

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splitpea1's picture

November 19, 2021 at 11:08 am

We have to stop Cook first with good DL play and sure tackling by the LBs and safeties. Maybe I'm being a little overconfident, but our secondary is developing a reliable track record as far as shutting opponent receivers down. It also helps that Cousins is not particularly mobile, so that should make things a little easier for our pass rushers. Hopefully Gary can continue to perform at a reasonably high level and not worsen his injury.

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jh9's picture

November 19, 2021 at 09:37 am

This is a much bigger game for the Vikings than the Packers. Jobs are on the line. If the Vikings can’t beat the Packers at home this year, there’s a good chance Zimmer and Spielman will be sacked.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 19, 2021 at 09:43 am

Every NFL game, two teams have to win...the Pack and whoever is playing the vyqueens...and Sunday it will be the same team.

This has become the biggest rivalry in the NFC North. No longer Packers/Bears.

I can see a similar game plan like last week for Barry, with Campbell again playing spy but replacing Wilson with Cook. Then creating DL pressures on Cousins but crashing more on the edges rather than protecting them as they did with Seattle. Then play the two deep again. I expect Stokes will be on Jefferson and Douglas drawing Thielen.

On O, lots of motion and play action to make the front 7 hesitate, especially LBs Kendricks and Barr. Rodgers should feast on the secondary but have to run and use screens and short passes to set up longer throws. And do not hand off from the shot gun. The MN front will stuff it.

On STs, Bojo needs a big day of flipping the field. Mason, please come home. Return and coverage teams, just be incredibly average and do not hurt the team.

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PatrickGB's picture

November 19, 2021 at 01:56 pm

I saw that we are one point favorites. Yet with all the injuries we have and because this is a must win game for the viks it smells like a trap game. Yet I think that our run defense and DB’s limit the score. They will probably try and blitz and disguise the pass rush against us. I expect a lot of disguised looks on defense and we start off slow. Also, their ST’s is superior to ours and that will be a problem. Lazard and M Taylor (DNP) may be out so it will be up to Adams, Cobb and maybe Daffney to be our main targets in the passing game. But Dillon will make a lot of plays as well.

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