Packers-Vikings renew border battle at Lambeau

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Most NFL coaches don’t put much stock in early-season division showdowns.

Mike Ditka certainly doesn’t.  The former Bears head coach and Hall of Fame tight end appreciates physical and talented defensive play, which was on full display in the Packers’ 10-3 victory in Chicago last week.

He also loathes ineffective offenses, and was disgusted with the play of both offenses in the ultra-hyped NFL’s 100th season opener at Soldier Field.

“The Bears offense was terrible, the Packers wasn’t much better,” Ditka said.  “Playing in the NFL is about scoring points.  I don’t care about excuses like the starters haven’t played in the preseason.  When the bell rings in the first regular-season game, they should be ready to perform and execute their offense.  Last week is history, let’s see what offense and quarterback responds in week 2.”

While Chicago faces the Broncos in Denver, Green Bay hosts the Vikings at Lambeau Field Sunday.  The border-rivalry game will be televised exclusively in Western Wisconsin on FOX 25/48 at 12 noon, followed by the Bears-Broncos game at 3:25 p.m.

Minnesota, fresh off a 28-12 rout of Atlanta in Minneapolis, offers a formidable challenge.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who torched the Packers for 767 yards and seven touchdowns in two games last season, only had to throw 10 passes in the victory.  That’s because running back Dalvin Cook was so effective, rushing 21 times for 111 yards and a career-high two touchdowns.

Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will provide match-up challenges for a Green Bay defense that limited the Bears to a single first-quarter field goal, 254 total yards, and just 3 of 15 third-down conversions.  Coordinator Mike Pettine’s unit sacked Mitch Trubisky five times and intercepted him in the end zone late in the fourth quarter as Chicago was driving for a potential tying score.

Stopping the run will be a focus of both the Packers and Vikings defense in the 118th overall meeting of these border rivals.  Green Bay leads the regular-season series 59-53-3 and the teams are 1-1 in postseason play.

The winner of this contest between preseason division favorites will have an early-season edge and sit atop the NFC North.

Week 2  NFL Picks


Is the Green Bay defense for real?  Minnesota offense will test with array of weapons:  RB Dalvin Cook and WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Rodgers and offense a work in progress and Aaron Jones must be effective to keep aggressive Vikings defense honest.  Zimmer-LaFleur coaching match-up will prove interesting.

Packers 24, Vikings 20

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