The last time the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings met was on Nov. 1, 2020. The Vikings walked away from Lambeau Field with a 28-22 victory. The Green and Gold’s kryptonite in that game was running back Dalvin Cook.
Cook had 30 carries for 163 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 63 yards and another score. For those of you doing the math, that means Dalvin had all 28 points for the team.
As we enter Week 11, Cook will still be a priority for the Packers’ defense. However, he has missed a few games due to injury and hasn’t quite been the same threat so far this year. Cook has 648 yards and three rushing touchdowns on the season. He had three in one game against Green Bay last year.
And while Cook will be a focus, the Packers can’t forget about Minnesota’s quarterback. Sure, it’s fun to poke fun at Kirk Cousins. He was paid a lot of money by the Vikings, and while he’s above-average, he hasn’t entirely performed at the level they probably expected. But the team still has several offensive weapons, and way too many experts predict Cousins to have a big game this weekend.
It’s a division rivalry game. The Packers are only about one or two games from basically clinching the NFC North already. They are on a roll, and their defense is playing great. It’s set up almost too perfectly for Cousins to throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
Green Bay sits at 8-2 and on top of the NFC North. Minnesota sits in second at 4-5. A loss for the Vikings would make winning the NFC North nearly impossible. It appears the Packers are running away with the division, and they have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league. Besides the Los Angeles Rams, the Packers have the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Vikings again, and Detroit Lions to close out the year. Green Bay may win all of those games.
This weekend’s game is in Minneapolis. Green Bay may have lost another huge defensive piece with Rashan Gary and his arm injury. They also have an overachieving but still very young cornerback room against maybe one of the best wide receiving duos in the game. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are no joke. Jefferson has 775 yards and four touchdowns on the year, while Thielen has 542 and seven. Jefferson will easily have 1,000 yards on the year, and Thielen could reach a dozen scores.
Cook and Alexander Mattison are also dangerous in the receiving game. Their emerging tight end Tyler Conklin will need to be covered too. That’s why this game really might be a toss-up instead of an easy win for Green Bay. Cousins has a lot of options at his disposal.
Kirk Cousins’ 2021 Stats
Cousins landed at 18th on this week’s ESPN QB power rankings chart, just below Jalen Hurts and above Daniel Jones. That doesn’t look great at first glance, but you can never truly count him out with the weapons he has around him. Cousins has 18 touchdowns, only two interceptions, and 2,434 yards this year. He is ninth overall in total yards, eighth in total touchdowns, and basically the only quarterback with only two picks who has started every game.
If you want to compare him to Rodgers, the Packers’ signal-caller has 2,186 yards, 17 touchdowns, and four picks. As of right now, Cousins has better overall stats. (Rodgers does have an extra rushing touchdown, though.) And according to ESPN’s rankings, he is currently second-best in the league.
Rodgers has fewer attempts, 295 to 339. But Cousins has a higher completion percentage of 68.1 over 66.4. Obviously, there is more season left and a lot more to being a great quarterback than just flashy stats. But Cousins is ahead of Rodgers in most statistical categories — even more reason why the Packers need to be ready this weekend.
What Will Happen
This game should be an easy win for the Packers, but it might not be. The Vikings have been competitive in every game so far this year, and victory (or, more often, defeat) has usually come down to the final possession.
The Vikings are basically playing for their season, while the Packers just want their team to stay healthy. They’ve lost so many players already to injury and can’t afford many more. The next-man-up mentality has worked so far; it’ll be much harder to win down the stretch with further attrition. Green Bay needs to win one of the next two games before the bye and stay healthy. Hopefully, the Packers leave Minnesota with a win and Rodgers drinking a grape Crush at the press conference. But I wouldn’t be placing any huge bets on them.