The Green Bay Packers will take the field for the first time of the 2020 season on Sunday at 12 PM central time. They’ll be taking on their hated rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.
It’s a matchup that has had it’s share of interesting battles the last few seasons.
The most recent battle that could be termed odd was a Week 2 matchup in 2018 where the teams played to a 29-29 draw.
Last year, the Packers swept the season series with a 21-16 victory at Lambeau Field coupled with a 23-10 NFC North clinching win at US Bank Stadium.
This year the stakes are a little different. It’s the season opener in what promises to be an odd season. There will be no fans in the stands this time around, making it a different type of road game.
How that will affect both teams is unknown. What we do know, is that football is back. It’s going to be played, and division games are going to be important.
What are the biggest matchups on Sunday that could help sway the game in one team’s favor? Last week, I told you that Green Bay’s biggest advantage was along their defensive front. For the sake of this article, we will assume that is a given. Here are three other matchups that will help decide Sunday’s season opener.
1.) Packers right tackle vs Vikings pass rush – The Packers haven’t announced who their starting right tackle is going to be. It could be Billy Turner. He’s listed as the team’s starter on their unofficial depth chart. He was not practicing on Monday, however. Matt LaFleur would not rule out kicking Elgton Jenkins out to right tackle. Rick Wagner was signed in the offseason and has plenty of experience at that position. What we do know is that none of those players is Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga was successful last season against both Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter.
This season you can swap out Griffen for Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue may be limited early as someone that was not participating in Jaguars camp before being traded to Minnesota. That said, he’s still lethal as a pass rusher. Mike Zimmer will find ways to find his prized acquisition some matchups in his favor. Whoever lines up at right tackle needs to be up to the task, otherwise Aaron Rodgers is going to be on his back.
2.) Aaron Jones vs Vikings defense – For all the talk about the Packers’ run defense matching up with Dalvin Cook, the Vikings didn’t exactly slow down Aaron Jones a season ago. Jones ran for more than 100 yards in each of the team’s two matchups, including 154 in the Packers division clinching win in Minnesota. Jones is one of the two big playmakers the Packers are going to build their offense around. He’ll be more comfortable in the offense this season, and perhaps more importantly Rodgers could trust him more in the passing game. If Jones gets going again like he did last year, it’ll be another long day for the Vikings’ defense.
3.) Davante Adams vs Vikings’ secondary – Speaking of turnover, the Vikings have had a lot of it in their secondary. Their safety tandem of Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith is one of the best in football.
Cornerback? That’s a different story. Xavier Rhodes was declining last season, but he is no longer there. Trae Waynes is no longer in Minnesota. Holton Hill and Mike Hughes are slated to be the team’s starting cornerbacks. Their careers have been marred by either injuries or inconsistent play to this point.
Cam Dantzler and Jeff Gladney are both high draft picks that Minnesota could use, but that’s a tall task for a rookie. Their primary matchup is against one of the best receivers in all of football.
The Packers may not have added anything in terms of outside help for Rodgers at the receiver position, but any receiving corps that has Adams at the top is at a good starting point.
There will be ways that Zimmer will try and scheme things up to take him away, but ultimately Rodgers should be able to find him with enough one-on-one matchups to create some havoc in the Minnesota secondary.