Monday Night Football Preview: Can the Packers Clinch the NFC North?
This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the 11-3 Green Bay Packers traveling to face the 10-4 Minnesota Vikings. With the division on the line, tonight's showdown offers potential fireworks.
Winners of three straight games, the Packers knocked off the Chicago Bears 21-13 last week. On the other side, the Vikings enter this contest after winning their last two. Last week, they beat the Los Angeles Chargers 39-10. With both teams looking to take home the division title, here are a few matchups likely to influence the outcome of tonight's game.
After functioning as the NFL's premier quarterback for multiple seasons, Aaron Rodgers has slowly regressed toward the league average. This year, Rodgers' 63.3 completion percentage ranks 18th in the NFL, while his 6.34 net yards per attempt comes in 15th. Looking at box score production, Rodgers hasn't eclipsed 300-passing yards since Week 8. However, injuries and player personnel certainly played a role in his mediocre season. Davante Adams missed multiple weeks with a toe injury, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, and Allen Lazard continue to show little behind Adams. Rodgers finds a sneaky positive matchup against a struggling Vikings' secondary. Despite ranking seventh in pass defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, the Vikings continue to give up big games to opposing wide receivers, including 99 receiving yards to Keenan Allen last week.
On the other side, Kirk Cousins continues his underrated 2019 campaign. Cousins' 70.5 completion percentage currently ranks third in the NFL. Likewise, his 7.6 net yards per attempt ranks fifth. Despite the advanced statistics and at least 200 yards passing in eleven straight games, Cousins often draws ridicule from sports media. This week, Cousins finds a neutral matchup against a Packers' secondary that ranks 14th against the pass according to our metrics. With Adam Thielen also healthy again, Cousins looks likely to continue his positive performance this week.
Running Back Matchup
The Packers backfield committee runs primarily through Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. On the year, Jones' 830 rushing yards and 17 all-purpose touchdowns dwarf Williams' 427 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. For whatever reason, the Packers insist on giving Williams upwards of 50-percent of the snaps and around 10 touches per game. In addition to the timeshare, a tough matchup against the Vikings' ninth-ranked run defense could limit the runners here.
On the other side, injures to Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison leave Mike Boone in line to receive most of the backfield touches tonight. An undrafted runner out of Cincinnati, Boone only has 21 carries this season. However, he remains a preseason cult hero, with a positive matchup against a weak Green Bay Packers' run defense. According to our metrics, the Packers rank 31st at defending the run, setting up Boone for a positive performance on prime time.
Looking at the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings enter this contest with the sixth-ranked defense, while the Packers slot in 15th.
Specifically, the Packers rank 14th against the pass, but 31st against the run. On the other side, the Vikings rank seventh against the pass and ninth against the run.
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