“These guys aren’t afraid of a challenge, and right now we have a challenge.”
–Head coach Matt LaFleur
They are two franchises trending in polar opposite directions.
After a 2-1 start, the Green Bay Packers (2-4) have lost three straight games and been outscored a staggering 63-6 in the first half of their last four contests. The Packers are coming off their most disappointing defeat of the season, a 19-17 head-scratcher in Denver to a Broncos team with the NFL’s 32nd-ranked defense.
After a 0-3 start, the Minnesota Vikings (3-4) have turned around their season in the last month going 3-1, including a signature 22-17 victory over the highly regarded San Francisco 49ers in Minneapolis on Monday night.
It’s gut-check time for the 2023 Packers, who can ill afford to lose to their NFC North Division and border rival Vikings Sunday at Lambeau Field. The 12 noon game will be televised exclusively in Western Wisconsin by FOX 25/48.
After being on the road for four of their first six games, Green Bay now has three home contests in their next four games. Some extended home-cooking may be just what first-year starter Jordan Love and the offense need to remedy horrific slow starts.
Green Bay hasn’t scored a touchdown in the first half of a game since Week 2 in Atlanta—a span of 41 days. The Packers rank last in the NFL in first-half points per game (4.3), but lead the league in second-half points per game with 17.3.
Inconsistency, two-score holes at halftime, key injuries, untimely penalties, lack of forcing turnovers, and youth have all played roles in Green Bay’s three-game losing skid.
“I think going through some adversity, as long as you come out the other side of it, can be a positive thing if channeled and harnessed the right way and if you respond the right way,” LaFleur said. “And so, that’s the expectation I have for our football team.”
Love has struggled with seven interceptions in the last four games, including game-clinching picks in the past two losses to Denver and La Vegas on Green Bay’s final drives with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Three of the Packers losses have been by four points or less and Love voiced his opinion after the Denver loss.
“Everyone’s very frustrated,” Love said. “We’ve got to find a way to win these games.
“We’ve been put in these positions multiple times on the offense to go win the game, and we haven’t capitalized on it. . . and the situations are going to keep coming.”
The Vikings defense and coordinator Brian Flores will dial up the pressure on Love, and linebacker Danielle Hunter leads the NFL with nine sacks. The Packers defense will be challenged containing a Vikings offense—sans injured Justin Jefferson—led by red-hot Kirk Cousins and favorite targets Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson.
The defense could be bolstered with the return of cornerback Jaire Alexander (back) and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (ankle), both listed as questionable on the Packers injury report.
With the potential for snow on Sunday afternoon, the weather may be conducive to more touches for the Packers backfield tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The Vikings’ running game has found a groove with a committee-approach including Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers.
An interesting stat on turnovers: The Vikings have committed 14 this season, second-highest in the league; the Packers have just five takeaways to rank last.
Green Bay Packers Injury Report Today
|Aaron Jones||RB||Hamstring||Did Not Participate In Practice|
|Christian Watson||WR||Knee||Full Participation In Practice|
|Elgton Jenkins||OL||Knee||Limited Participation In Practice|
|Yosuah Nijman||OT||Knee||Limited Participation In Practice|
|Preston Smith||LB||Illness||Did Not Participate In Practice|
|Devonte Wyatt||DL||Knee||Limited Participation In Practice|
|Zayne Anderson||S||Hamstring||Full Participation In Practice|
Week 8 NFL Picks
Vikings 23, Packers 20. The difference is at quarterback right now, as Cousins has enjoyed excellent protection and is clicking with Addison and Hockenson. With or without Alexander, the Packers defense faces a tall task. Turnovers will again be a difference-maker in this rivalry game.