Week 1 Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers

The Minnesota Vikings host the Green Bay Packers in a game that should go a long way to deciding the NFC North this Sunday. The teams played twice last year; in Green Bay, the Vikings were humiliated, losing 37-10. But that was without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, who missed the game with COVID-19. The last time the teams met in Minnesota, the Vikings took a narrow 34-31 victory, kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired. This week, the Vikings find themselves 1.5-point underdogs to the visiting Packers.

Both teams should have significant new looks when they take the field. The Packers will be without their long-time star Davante Adams, who was traded away earlier this offseason for a bevy of draft picks. Adams led the Packers in receiving in each of his five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2017 to 2021, and it remains to be seen how they'll adjust to his absence. Despite quarterback Aaron Rodger's back-to-back MVPs, the Packers have ranked 10th or worse in scoring for four of the past five years, and no receiver but Adams has tallied more than 690 receiving yards for the team over that span. The Packers could also be short alleged WR1 Allen Lazard. They may be forced to lean on running backs AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, who both see themselves as potential Pro Bowlers.

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Meanwhile, the Vikings will play for the first time under their new head coach Kevin O'Connell. O'Connell comes to the Vikings after a quick rise through the NFL's coaching ranks, having earned his first professional coaching gig in 2015 with the Cleveland Browns. Drafted 94th overall in 2008 by the New England Patriots, O'Connell is a former quarterback who led the Los Angeles Rams to last year's Super Bowl championship by serving as offensive coordinator for the league's seventh-ranked scoring offense. 

As for the defenses, both teams are looking to improve over last year. The Vikings successfully recruited recent Packers edge rusher Za'Darius Smith, and he's eager to do some damage twice a year to his former team. The Packers meanwhile are hoping the return of former Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander, who missed most of last year with a shoulder injury, can spark their defense past last year's 13th ranking in points allowed.

The Packers visit the Vikings this Sunday in Week 1 of the NFL regular season. 
Photo Credit: © Green Bay Press Gazette-USA TODAY NETWORK