The first installment of the 2019 version of the twice-annual Vikings-Packers rivalry will take place this Sunday at Lambeau Field. Green Bay, with extra days of rest following their Thursday night win over Chicago, will look to seize on an opportunity to start 2-0 in division play but they'll have to do so against a Vikings team that started hot and finished strong against Atlanta in Week 1.
Here are five Vikings-Packers storylines to watch this week.
1. Unfamiliarity creeps into long-time rivalry
Sunday will be the 118th time the Vikings and Packers will battle it out on the gridiron. As tried and true as the rivalry is, installment No. 1 of it in 2019 actually features some unfamiliarity. It will be the first Border Battle for new Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur, as an example. On a more micro scale, the Packers defense won't have much film of the Vikings passing attack to study since Kirk Cousins dropped back only 10 times against Atlanta. On the flip side, the Packers defense used some defensive back-heavy personnel groupings against dual-threat quarterback Mitchell Trubisky that it may not employ against a pocket passer such as Cousins.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Packers.
2. Two fast-starting defenses face big challenges
The Vikings defense paced last week's winning effort, with a three-and-out leading to a blocked punt right out of the gates followed by three takeaways in the first three quarters. It all added up to a 28-0 lead at one point as the Vikings coasted home to victory. Green Bay's defensive effort was equally impressive, however, as it stymied the Bears offense from gate to wire and allowed only three points for the game. The challenge is as great, if not greater, for both groups this week. Aaron Rodgers has long been one of the best passers in the game and the Vikings boast a talented group of skill position players plus a quarterback of their own who threw three touchdowns in a fierce 4th-quarter comeback last year at Lambeau Field.
3. Quarterbacks beware…plenty of pass rush is coming
For as much ability as these two offenses have at quarterback and the other skill positions, it's their offensive lines who must be on point in this matchup. These two defenses combined for nine sacks in Week 1, as the Packers took Trubisky down five times and the Vikings barely broke a sweat in sacking Matt Ryan four times. The Vikings have one of the most respected defensive end tandems in the League with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter tag teaming to chase quarterbacks, while the Green Bay Packers have already reaped the rewards of splashing in free agency on edge players Preston Smith (1.5) and Za'Darius Smith (1.0), each of whom had a sack at Soldier Field on Thursday night.
4. Next on Xavier's list: Davante Adams
Typically, Xavier Rhodes draws the assignment of shadowing the opposing team's top threat at wide receiver. Last week, that meant a date with Julio Jones. It was a job well done by Rhodes and his teammates as Jones was held in check until a garbage-time touchdown. If the Vikings go with a similar strategy this week in Green Bay, it likely means a matchup with Davante Adams. Some coverage calls will pit another defensive back against Adams and we all know pass defense is the combination of rush and coverage, but the Rhodes-Adams matchup has been a fun one to watch for years and 2019 figures to be no exception.
View exclusive images shot by Vikings team photographer Andy Kenutis as the Vikings and Falcons competed against each other in the home opener at U.S. Bank Stadium.
5. Overreaction Monday is forthcoming
On Monday morning, September 16, one of these two teams will be 2-0 and coming off a big win in a rivalry game. If it's Green Bay, they'll be 2-0 overall and in the division. If it's Minnesota, they'll be 2-0 overall and in the NFC, and will likely be favorites in their Week 3 matchup with Oakland at U.S. Bank Stadium. Suffice it to say, the winner of this week's NFC North showdown will spend the next week preparing for a game while much of the football-following world showers them with praise and playoff prognostications. The reality for both teams, though, is there will be 14 more games to go and one of them will be Take 2 of the Border Battle (Week 16), which means there is a lot of football left to be played.