GREEN BAY – The Packers wrap up their two-game “homestand” against division opponents to start the season with Sunday’s clash vs. the Vikings.
Here are some things to keep an eye on:
1. On the edge: The Packers had their troubles early on last week with Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack before Bryan Bulaga quieted him as the game went on. Everson Griffen, who has double-digit sacks in three of the past four years, is the most dangerous pass rusher in a formidable Minnesota front, and the job falls on LT David Bakhtiari to neutralize him.
2. In the backfield: The Packers allowed Bears RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to average better than 5 yards per carry last week (20 rushes, 107 yards collectively), which will have Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook looking to establish the Vikings’ ground game in a big way. Cook posted 95 yards from scrimmage last week (40 rushing, 55 receiving) in his first game back from the ACL tear in his rookie season.
3. Down the middle: New TE Jimmy Graham did not have the Packers debut he was looking for, with just two catches for 8 yards against the Bears. With linebackers disrupting his release off the line of scrimmage and double coverage in the red zone, Chicago schemed to take Graham out of the game. Minnesota might try to do the same, while the Packers could have a counter. For what it’s worth, San Francisco TE George Kittel had five catches for 90 yards against the Vikings last week.
4. After the catch: Green Bay racked up 201 yards after the catch in the Week 1 comeback victory, which represented 59 percent of the team’s total passing yards, a high share. With QB Aaron Rodgers’ mobility compromised and/or backup DeShone Kizer possibly stepping in, quick throws to get the ball out will be required at times, and it’ll be up to the Packers’ receivers to make the most of those chances.
5. In the huddle: New Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is no stranger to the Packers, having faced Green Bay in the 2015 playoffs and the 2016 regular season as Washington’s signal caller. But this is his first career appearance at Lambeau Field, and his introduction to what is currently the best NFC North rivalry.