November 21, 2014

Arman Two Pack Preview: Minnesota Vikings

The Packers play on the road at Minnesota this week, and then have arguably the AFC's best team in New England at home the week. How can the Packers avoid overlooking Minnesota and take care of business on the road?

Shane: They need to take Minnesota seriously and exploit their weaknesses, plain and simple. Teddy Bridgewater gets the ball out quick and is capable of making big plays. Minnesota's run game also isn't anything to sneeze at; at least statistically they are better than Green Bay in that category and we all know the Packers biggest weakness is run defense. The Packers need to exploit Minnesota's lack of balance on offense and tendency for turnovers.

Mitch: This is a good question and a main concern coming up in the next couple of weeks here. The Packers must do three things: stay healthy, protect Aaron Rodgers and continue to be an opportunistic/turnover producing defense. We know the offense is on a monumental roll right now, and if the defense keeps showing up like they have, good luck beating the Pack, anywhere.

How much credit does Dom Capers deserve for the past few weeks' improved defensive performances? And are those aberrations or can the Packers defense maintain their high level of play, perhaps if the offense has an off day?
Green Bay Packers Dom Capers raising his fist in celebration
Green Bay Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers

Shane: Dom deserves a good chunk of credit for the way Green Bay's defense has been playing lately, but the challenge will be if they can keep it up. Teams now have tape and won't be surprised when Clay is lined up everywhere. I'll be particularly interesting to see how the Patriots and Bill Belichick try to neutralize Clay.

Mitch: I think Capers deserves some of the credit, especially with the move of Clay to ILB. Seems to have sparked the defense. Whether the defense can keep it up remains to be seen, but I think if the Packers are able to improve stopping the run, the defense will be given opportunities to make game-changing plays like they have been.

Given the current state of the NFC standings, predict where you think the Packers will finish, including playoff seeding and final record? Also, who would you be most nervous for the Packers to face in their first playoff game, assuming they get in?

Shane: The Packers finish 12-4 and secure the number two seed in the playoffs, earning a first round bye. Games of concern include New England at home, Detroit at home and surprisingly, at Buffalo, which I think will be a tougher game than some Packer fans think. In fact, I predict the Packers will lose that game at Buffalo and beat both New England (in a close game) and Detroit (in a blowout). Either way, the Packers should be poised for a deep playoff run, finishing the season winning 7 out of their last 8. If the Packers happen to falter at home in week 17 to Detroit, I would hate for them to travel to New Orleans in the first round, is a very real possibility.

Mitch: The NFC picture is crazy. A lot of good teams floating around the 4-8 seeds. Here is how I see it:

  • Arizona has Seattle twice (including on the road this week), San Francisco one more time, and a tough game versus a streaking Kansas City team. I still think they are the king of the hill, and will end up 13-3 as the #1 seed. 
  • I mention the above because I see the Packers right behind the Cardinals at 12-4 as the #2 seed. I'm going to tread lightly saying this, but with their two toughest remaining games being at home (New England week 12 and Detroit week 17), I can't see this team losing two more games. 
  • As far as who I would most not like to see in game one (at Lambeau), I would have to say San Francisco if they end up in the playoffs. Just one of those teams who has the Packers number the last couple years. 
  • I will add that if the Packers make the road to the Super Bowl come through the Frozen Tundra, I do not think there is a team in the NFC that can come into Lambeau and walk away victorious.

Predict the Minnesota score and player of the game for Green Bay, not named Aaron Rodgers. 
Eddie Lacy Running Past Oakland Raiders Charles Woodson
Is Eddie Lacy due for a breakout game at Minnesota? 

Shane: Green Bay controls both lines of scrimmage and has a big day running the football on a brisk day in Minnesota. Packers, 34-10. Eddie Lacy is the player of the game, eclipsing 150 yards rushing for the first time this year and adding a few catches with two total TDs.

Mitch: This Sunday at Minnesota I like the Packers 31-17. Player of the game will be a guy who is having a hell of a year, pre free-agency; Randall Cobb.


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