It’s no secret that the Vikings-Packers rivalry is one of the best around the league.
The annual Border Battles typically feature close, exciting games that usually have playoff implications. Sometimes neither team wins, as was the case in Week 2 of the 2018 season at Lambeau Field.
But what makes the rivalry great is the players that have been involved, whether it’s past greats such as Hall of Famers Randy Moss and Reggie White trying to get a win, or current players such as Aaron Rodgers or Adam Thielen.
Heck, Brett Favre liked the rivalry so much he was on both sides of it.
While players understand the importance of the division games with their rival, there are some who shine brighter than others.
Pro Football Focus writer Ben Linsey recently picked out the “team-killers” for each NFL team, and went with Vikings safety Harrison Smith as Green Bay’s biggest nemesis.
Linsey’s criteria for being a team-killer included playing a minimum of 300 snaps against a given team and picked up the highest overall grade in the PFF era (2006-present).
PFF has given Smith an overall grade of 90.0 in 12 career games against the Packers.
Smith has been one of the best safeties in the league since being drafted in 2012, and he has been the best defender in the league against Rodgers and the Packers offense. He has a run-defense grade of 90.1 and a coverage grade of 85.7 across 868 snaps vs. Green Bay. In coverage, Smith has allowed a passer rating of 71.5 behind a league-high five interceptions.
Perhaps the All-Pro safety’s signature game against Green Bay was a 16-0 shutout win in Week 16 of the 2017 season.
Smith snagged a pair of interceptions on a night where the wind chill was a balmy 0 degrees at kickoff.
As for the flip side of the rivalry, the main thorn in the Vikings side isn’t currently with the Packers.
PFF listed former Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy as Minnesota’s biggest headache, as he had a grade of 91.6 in seven games against the Vikings. According to PFF, Lacy forced 31 missed tackles on 139 total rush attempts.
Rodgers was named the biggest team-killer for both the Bears and Lions.
MMQB Podcast ranks Thielen as NFL’s No. 6 wide receiver
Adam Thielen has been to back-to-back Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in 2017, and has clearly earned the respect of many around the league.
That includes Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling, the hosts of the MMQB Podcast who recently ranked their top 10 wide receivers in the game today.
Thielen came in at No. 6 on the list, as the former undrafted free agent who made the Vikings after a rookie tryout found himself with numerous former first-round picks.
Benoit and Gramling praised Thielen’s route running and work ethic, as well as his consistent ability make contested catches.
The Minnesota native is coming off his best season as a pro. He caught 113 passes for 1,373 yards with nine touchdowns in 2018.
Julio Jones topped the list and was followed by Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas.