If you were forced to find some sort of difference between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings, you might be straining for a while. Both teams have the same basic concepts on offense and defense and have nearly identical records heading into their Monday Night clash. The Packers (11-3) can lock up the division with a victory while the Minnesota Vikings (10-4) need a victory to compete for the division crown, but also to tread water with the rest of the NFC playoff pack.
Minnesota and Green Bay will be looking to utilize their strong ground games. Aaron Jones, Green Bay's feature back, has accumulated 890 rushing yards this season and currently leads the NFL with 14 rushing touchdowns. Add this to the fact that he is a weapon catching passes out of the backfield, and Green Bay has a legitimate threat in the backfield for the first time in what seems like ages for the green and gold. To not be outdone, Minnesota's lead dog, Dalvin Cook, has amassed 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground this season. However, Cook could be sidelined for the pivotal matchup, re-aggravating a shoulder injury in a Week 15 victory over the Chargers. Given Cook's status, we may see a healthy dose of Michael Boone, whose 2 touchdown explosion in Week 15 may bode well for the matchup.
Have you heard the statistic about Kirk Cousins not being able to win primetime games? If not, you'll hear it plenty over the coming week, and there is no better time for Cousins to show that he is putting together an elite quarterbacking year. Cousins has hit on 70% of his throws this year and keeps churning an offense that puts up consistent numbers every week. Opposite of Kirk, Aaron Rodgers has quietly posted a season to be envied by many quarterbacks around the league. Rodgers has been getting major flack this season for being a stumbling block for the success of the offense, but his numbers don't back up this statement. Rodgers has posted 24 touchdowns compared to 2 interceptions and has kept near his NFL Record Passer Rating of 100.4. What's been incredible about both quarterbacks have been their insane interception rates. Kirk Cousins is throwing an interception on just 1.4% of throws, and Rodgers only on 0.4% of his.
What will decide this game is how each defense combats their rival QB, and takeaways could be the driving force behind a team's victory. Minnesota has looked especially good as of late, forcing the Chargers to turn the ball over seven times, and has forced opponents into 27 turnovers all season. Green Bay has been aggressive in looking for takeaways too, grabbing 23 this season, good for 7th in the league. Both teams also rank in the Top 5 for Red Zone Defense, while Green Bay has posted it's best scoring defense since its' Super Bowl campaign in 2010. The Vikings are dominant on defense at home, allowing only 14.2 points in front of the purple faithful.
Both squads enter the game hot. Over the past 10 games, Green Bay and Minnesota have posted 8-2 records, but Green Bay has lost two of their last three road games.
The matchup can be seen at 8:15 ET on ESPN's Monday Night Football