May. 30, 2016
Packers Week 16 Preview
Anybody remember a 250 pound running back currently on IR? A 30 year old backup who played a key role in the run to their last Super Bowl? I don't right now, not with the way Ty Montgomery is running. For the next two weeks, he will be going up against the two best defenses in the division, and among the best defenses in the NFL. To start, it is the last regular season home game against the Minnesota Vikings, who are now 7-7 and look like they are on the cusp of failure. Not only did they lose seven of nine games after starting 5-0, but they gave up a first and fourth round pick to the Eagles for a rental in Sam Bradford, in hopes of getting there.
Despite what the Colts did to the Vikings last Sunday, I wouldn't take this defense lightly. There's a good chance S Harrison Smith won't play this Sunday due to injury, and CB Trae Waynes is questionable, but they still have great corners and a good pass rush. They have three defensive ends who have at least seven sacks, and Danielle Hunter is among league leaders with 10.5 sacks. G Brandon Fusco, FB Zach Line, WR Adam Thielen and Laquon Treadwell are also questionable, but the biggest factor in Thielen should play. He is second in receiving yards and touchdowns for the Vikings, so losing him would be a big hit on an already weak offense.
The good news for the Vikings is that RB Adrian Peterson has a full week under his belt now of playing at full strength, and definitely could round into midseason form by this week. In the last game he played against the Packers, the game he got hurt in, he had 19 carries for 30 or so yards and no touchdowns, and was an essential non-factor. I wouldn't count on that again if I were the Packers, but I would definitely make stopping the run a priority on defense, then stopping the limited passing game. Slowing down WR Stefon Diggs will be important as well, as he gained about 22% of his yards this season against the Packers (with about 180).
As far as the Packers' injuries are concerned, the only injury on the active roster on defense is OLB Nick Perry, who missed last week's game with a hand injury. I'm assuming 50-50 odds of him playing this week, but he should be available come playoffs. The offensive skill positions are healthy too, with RB James Starks having a concussion and is also questionable. The offensive line also has three injuries, G TJ Lang and Lane Taylor, but Taylor is expected to play and TJ Lang is always banged up, so the starting five should stay in tact. C JC Tretter is also still recovering from that knee injury, but even if he can suit up, I'd leave the offensive line alone for now with the way it is playing.
I truly hope Aaron Rodgers is going to be more mobile this week against Minnesota, because I have already mentioned the pass rush that they have, being among the best in the NFL. He's going to get sacked five plus times if he isn't, but a lot of that goes on the shoulders of the offensive line. Running the ball with Montgomery and Christine Michael is needed to slow that down too, and the weaker portion of the Vikings' defense is the run defense.
Green Bay finally controls its' own destiny once again, and if they win out they are in the playoffs. Were the season to end today, they would still be in as losses by the Redskins and Buccaneers put the Pack back where they belong. I would be a lot more hesitant about this game if they were playing in Minnesota, but they are in Lambeau, and they should be able to find a way to win this week. Final score: Green Bay 21, Minnesota 13