A lot of the talk in the national news lately has been about who is the top team in the NFC. Most pundits talk about the Vikings, the Rams and sometimes the Saints. The Packers seem to be overlooked in these discussions but there are certainly question marks. Today, we will do a comparison between the Packers and the Vikings rosters and see who wins out.
While the Vikings have put all their eggs in the Kirk Cousins basket, there is no question who the better quarterback is: Aaron Rodgers. When Case Keenum exited this off-season, it was after a 3547 yard, 22 touchdown to 7 interception season with an overall quarterback rating of 98.3 and completion percentage of 67.6. That is good enough to be a second order quarterback according to pro football focus. Is Kirk Cousins the kind of qb that can become a first order quarterback (ie elite) with the great WR corps that the Vikings have? The Vikings clearly think so. But Cousins’ passer rating average over the last 3 years (including his career best 101.6) was only 97.6 which certainly is not a huge leap from Keenum. The biggest statistic where Cousins shines is in touchdowns. Cousins’ top td count was in 2015 with 29 but he had 27 just last year with far less weapons around him. The jury is out on how much of a step forward Cousins will be but as for the Packers…they know exactly what they are getting back.
Aaron Rodgers is the elite of the elite. Case in point is the fact that he was named the number 10 player in the league in a season in which he only played 5 full games. Rodgers’ injury opened the door for the Vikings’ NFC North championship and sunk the Packers’ playoff hopes last year. But Rodgers is back and everything that we hear from OTA’s and mini-camp is that he is in mid-season form. Add to that the fact that Rodgers will certainly remember that the Vikings took away the Packers’ chances at a Super Bowl just across the Mississippi and one has to figure he really does have a chip on his shoulder (or out of it). Rodgers will be without Jordy Nelson and will have to get on the same page with new tight end threat Jimmy Graham but there is no question who the better quarterback is.
The Vikings had a nice one-two punch at running back even after Dalvin Cook exited with a knee injury. In 2018, Cook is looking to add to his explosive beginning to last season and be the next Adrian Peterson. But the Vikings had the seventh best rushing attack in the league last year even with his exit, though the exit of Pat Shurmur could have the same effect that Atlanta felt during last year’s campaign. And Cook is coming back from an ACL so there is no guarantee that he will be 100% in week two against the Packers or be the same player overall.
The Packers will be missing Aaron Jones for the first couple weeks but have a fairly strong stable of running backs with Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, and also Devante Mays ready to take those reps. Packers fans will want to give the roster domination nod to the Packers here but I think Cook being back along with the addition of Cousins to make defenses respect the Vikings passing game will also benefit. Cook is a bit of a wild card but if the Vikings are right about Cousins as an upgrade (I did say “if”), they should have a strong rushing attack.
The Patriots have been doing it for a long time and the rest of the league is beginning to follow suit in supplementing a mature, franchise quarterback with inexpensive running back talent particularly running back duos. The Saints couldn’t be happier to have Drew Brees handing off to Kamara and Co and the Packers drafted 3 running backs two years ago to make sure that Aaron Rodgers is handing off to real threats out of the backfield, a move that also means they are not paying a top running back for another two or three years taking pressure off the Rodgers contract situation while adding offensive firepower. The Vikings hope they have found their franchise quarterback in Cousins, but as he is no Aaron Rodgers, I give the overall nod to Green Bay in these two critical offensive areas.
Next time, we will talk about the receiver corps of each of these two teams along with their offensive lines. But what do you think about the quarterback/running back comparison? Let us know in the comments below or back on the Facebook fanpage.