The two teams predicted to vie for the NFC North title will immediately face one another on Sunday, as the Green Bay Packers head to Minnesota to face the Vikings. The two teams are very familiar with one another, and have made some tweaks to their operation that they hope will result in greater success in 2022. The two teams split their season series last year, with each franchise winning on their home field.
Which Wide Receiver Will Step Up For Green Bay?
While most of the attention this offseason was focused on whether future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers would return to the team, the contract status of All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams was largely overlooked. Rodgers did end up staying in Green Bay, but will now have to operate in 2022 without Adams, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. The Packers were not able to offer Adams the type of contract he was looking for, and they traded him to the Las Vegas Raiders.
The focus now turns to a group of players that will likely not replace Adams individually, but collectively. Allen Lazard has been with the Packers for four seasons, and at age 26, may be ready to make a leap that other Green Bay receivers have over the last decade. Lazard is currently battling an ankle injury, so his status leading up to Sunday’s game will be worth monitoring.
Veteran Randall Cobb remains one of Rodgers’ favorite targets, but is best served in a slot role at this juncture of his career. That leaves free agent addition Sammy Watkins, and rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson to emerge as options on the outside. Doubs has had a standout preseason, and may get a healthy complement of snaps against Minnesota.
Is Justin Jefferson Primed For An Explosive Season?
For many years, the public had been clamoring for the Vikings to make a change at head coach, as Mike Zimmer proved to be a solid defensive leader but not someone who was adaptable to modern NFL offensive trends. At long last, the franchise made the decision to move on from Zimmer, and brought in Kevin O’Connell from the Los Angeles Rams.
The Sean McVay coaching tree seems to be a popular one from which to pluck talent for other NFL teams, and Minnesota is hoping that O’Connell can recreate what the Los Angeles Rams have with the Vikings. One of the most exciting parallels between O’Connell’s work with the Rams and his current job with the Vikings is getting the most out of star receivers. Cooper Kupp had a record setting season in Los Angeles in 2021, and it is believed that the former Rams assistant may be able to facilitate a similar level of production from Justin Jefferson.
Reports out of Vikings camp indicate that Jefferson has been used all over the offensive formation, which in theory would make it difficult for defenses to stop him. We will see where he lines up on Sunday against Green Bay.
Packers Backfield Utilization
As the Packers try to figure out which players will step up on the outside in the place of Davante Adams, they also have the good fortune of leaning on their running game to move the ball downfield. Green Bay has two stellar running backs in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, who both figure to be heavily involved this season.
Head coach Matt LaFleur called both players leading ballcarriers, and we will find out whether their workload is split evenly, or tilts towards one back on Sunday.