What We Learned Against the Vikings

UntitledThe Packers picked up where they left off at home with a 42-10 rout of the Vikings, extending CBS’s losing streak on Thursday Night Football. With Minnesota missing starters Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph, just about the only obstacle to the Green Bay’s third win of the season was the sloppy weather conditions. And despite some light rain, Aaron Rodgers and company continued to look like the offense that fans raved about during the preseason.

Matched up against a young and athletic Minnesota D-line, the offensive line gave Rodgers all day to find receivers over the middle and downfield. Such continuity was encouraging to see after rough performances by the interior O-line in Detroit and a tough game for David Bakhtiari in Chicago. A common trend for Mike McCarthy’s offenses has been the ‘geling’ that takes place during the first half of the season. This front five appears to have established chemistry with one another, which should make the November return of J.C. Tretter a positive dilemma.

The highlight of the offensive line’s big night was their creation of running lanes for Eddie Lacy, who had struggled mightily to find holes for four straight weeks. The revitalized running game allowed McCarthy’s offense to achieve both balance and tempo, allowing the unit to keep Minnesota’s D honest and sustain long drives. Arguably even more important than keeping Lacy healthy is the health of the offensive line, which has close to no depth.

On the other side of the ball, the performance of Dom Capers’s defense was even more impressive than that of the offense, with two big interceptions by Julius Peppers and Jamari Lattimore. Largely invisible for the past season and a half, Morgan Burnett made his presence felt with several key tackles and a forced fumble. Most importantly, the front seven (and D-line in particularly) harassed Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder for four straight quarters.

With a number of potent offenses still remaining on the schedule, the Packers need more big plays out of the emerging Datone Jones, Nick Perry and Jamari Lattimore. Though veteran pass rushers Peppers and Clay Matthews have been increasingly effective at hurrying opposing quarterbacks this season, the Packers have not been great at finishing tackles on blitzes by inside linebackers and safeties.

The win over the Vikings caps a solid series against divisional opponents and sustains Green Bay’s year-over-year success during the month of October. To stay competitive in the race for the NFC North crown, the Packers will look to win at least two of the next three games before their bye week, facing Miami next week, followed by Carolina and New Orleans.

What We Learned Against the Vikings

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