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Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Predictions 09-13-2020

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Because of their passionate fans, the Minnesota Vikings pride themselves on having one of the great home-field advantages in the NFL. Even when the nearby rival Green Bay Packers come to town.

On Sunday, though, the Packers and Vikings open this unique season in an empty U.S. Bank Stadium. However, that should not diminish the high expectations both hold for 2020.

After consecutive third-place finishes, Green Bay went 13-3, won the NFC North and reached the NFC Championship Game in Matt LaFleur's first season as head coach in 2019. Minnesota, meanwhile, again finished second in the North at 10-6, earned a wild-card playoff spot and eventually lost to San Francisco in the divisional round.

Now, amid a season played under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic, the Packers and Vikings remain the front-runners in the division. However, the focal point for both teams is specifically on Sunday's challenge.

"We're not focused on anything that's not in front us," LaFleur said while addressing the media this week. "Going into someone else's stadium, whether there's fans or no fans. That's a playoff football team (in Minnesota)."

It's also a team Green Bay beat twice in 2019. In the Packers' 23-10 win at Minnesota on Dec. 23 in Week 16, Aaron Jones ran for a career-high 154 yards and two touchdowns. Jones rushed for a career-best 1,084 yards in 2019, and his 16 rushing touchdowns tied for the NFL lead.

Of course, Green Bay's success usually depends on the play of Aaron Rodgers. The star quarterback turns 37 in December but is coming off his eighth season of at least 4,000 passing yards. In 23 career starts versus Minnesota, Rodgers has completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 5,475 yards with 43 touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

"You get to know those guys," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told the media on Wednesday. "I just wish (the Packers) weren't quite as good as they are. They're a really good football team.

"They know us pretty well, and we know them pretty well."

Zimmer's group must also contain three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams. A toe issue limited Adams to 83 receptions, 997 yards and just five touchdowns in 12 regular-season games in 2019. He recorded 13 of those catches and 116 yards at Minnesota in the December game.

Stopping Adams could be more of a challenge with corners Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes no longer around. In addition, a defense that ranks second in the NFL over the past five seasons in allowing 18.8 points per game, has seen defensive tackle Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen leave through free agency.

Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter (14 1/2 sacks in each of the last two seasons) will miss at least the first three games after being placed on Injured Reserve with an undisclosed "tweak." Minnesota did bring in Yannick Ngakoue (37 1/2 career sacks) from Jacksonville.

Offensively, Minnesota still has three of the best in the business.

Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins enters his third season with the team with a 69.7 completion percentage, 7,901 yards, 56 touchdowns against 16 interceptions so far. Cousins has 24,107 passing yards for his career.

Running back Dalvin Cook (career-high 1,135 rushing yards in 2019) scored 13 touchdowns last season and receiver Adam Thielen, who was limited to 10 games due to injury in 2019, is the undisputed top receiving threat with Stefon Diggs gone.

Cook ran for 154 yards with a touchdown in a 21-16 loss at Green Bay in 2019. He missed the December game with injury.

The Vikings could have a hard time generating consistent offense against a Packers defense (19.6 points per game allowed in 2019) that returns the Smiths, Preston and Za'Darius. They combined for 25 1/2 sacks in 2019.

Za'Darius Smith sacked Cousins 3 1/2 times in last season's win at Minnesota.

Green Bay right tackle Billy Turner (knee) did not practice Wednesday and is questionable for Sunday. Starting LB Oren Burks (groin) was limited.

--Field Level Media

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Stadium

U.S. Bank Stadium
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Capacity: 65,400

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Last Injuries

Minnesota Vikings

  • Dalvin Cook

    Groin
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Dalvin missed the previous game with an adductor strain, and it has yet to be established if he will suit up for Week 8 versus the Packers.

  • Holton Hill

    Groin
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Hill has missed the last two games with a groin injury, and it is undetermined if he will play Week 8 against the Packers.

  • K.J. Osborn

    Hamstring
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Osborn has sat out the previous two games due to a hamstring injury, and it is unknown if he will be available against the Packers in Week 8.

  • Mike Hughes

    Neck
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Hughes departed the previous game with a neck injury, and it is unclear if he will face the Packers in Week 8.

  • Dru Samia

    Wrist
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Samia was absent from the lineup for the last contest due to a wrist injury, and it is unknown if he will line up versus the Falcons in Week 8.

  • Kris Boyd

    Hamstring
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Boyd has been absent from the lineup during the past three games due to a hamstring injury, and it is unclear if he will return Week 8 against the Packers.

  • C.J. Ham

    Shoulder
    Prob Sun | probable

    Ham is nursing a shoulder injury, but he is likely to face the Falcons on Sunday.

  • Jaleel Johnson

    Back
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Johnson has a back injury, and it is unknown if he will suit up against the Falcons on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers

  • Robert Tonyan

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Tonyan is hampered by an ankle injury, and his status is clouded for Sunday's showdown with the Texans.

  • Darnell Savage

    Quadricep
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Savage picked up a quad injury in the previous contest, and it is unclear if he will face the Texans on Sunday.

  • Preston Smith

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Smith is battling a shoulder injury, and it is undetermined if he will participate in Sunday's game with the Texans.

  • Equanimeous St. Brown

    Knee
    Ques Sun | questionable

    St. Brown is hobbled by a knee injury, and it remains to be seen if he will be on field against the Texans on Sunday.

  • Kamal Martin

    Knee
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Martin has been sent to the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with a torn meniscus in his left knee. It is uncertain if he will return Sunday versus the Texans.

  • Tyler Lancaster

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Lancaster was forced from the previous game with a shoulder injury. It has yet to be established if he will suit up against the Texans on Sunday.

  • Kevin King

    Quadricep
    Ques Sun | questionable

    King missed the last game due to a quad injury, and it is unknown if he will be available Sunday versus the Texans.

  • Rashan Gary

    Ankle
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Gary is dealing with an ankle injury, and it is unknown if he will be in Sunday's lineup versus the Texans.