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Early Look: Unprecedented Week 1 Awaits Vikings & Packers

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings will open the 2020 season with a familiar — yet unprecedented — Week 1 matchup.

Minnesota hosts Green Bay for Kickoff Weekend, marking the first time in the Vikings 60-year history they will open a season at home against the Packers. Kickoff is at noon (CT) Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

This will be the 120th overall meeting between the division rivals. Minnesota has an all-time record of 54-62-3 against Green Bay.

The Vikings were swept by the Packers in 2019 as Green Bay won the division.

The Border Battle rivals have combined to win 14 of the 18 division titles since the NFC North was formed in 2002, including 10 of the past 12.

The Vikings are perfect in their past three season openers at home, getting wins over New Orleans, San Francisco and Atlanta.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Packers.

Here's a look at the Vikings Week 1 matchup against the Packers, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings:

Passing: Kirk Cousins is entering Year 3 in Purple fresh off his first-career playoff win, and perhaps the best season of his career.

Cousins went 10-5 as a starter in 2019, as he tallied a career-best passer rating of 107.4. He completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,603 yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Cousins had an expected completion percentage of 63.6 in 2019. His plus-5.5 completion percentage above expectation ranked third in the NFL.

Cousins is 1-2-1 in his Vikings career against the Packers, throwing for 1,119 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions in 2018 and 2019.

Cousins will be protected up front by the starting five of, from left to right, Riley Reiff, Dakota Dozier, Garrett Bradbury, Pat Elflein and Brian O'Neill.

The Vikings will see a familiar face in Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will make his 23rd career start against Minnesota. He is 13-8-1 against the Vikings as a starter, including a 6-4-1 record against Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

Rodgers threw for 4,002 yards in 2019 as he hit the 4,000-yard mark for the eighth time in his career. He threw for 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions, including one nabbed by Vikings safety Anthony Harris.

Rodgers' minuscule interception rate of 0.7 percent led all NFL quarterbacks in 2019.

Rushing: Dalvin Cook is coming off the best season of his career, as the Vikings running back did a bit of everything on the way to his first Pro Bowl nod in 2019.

Cook ranked seventh in the NFL with 1,654 yards from scrimmage. He tallied 1,135 rushing yards and 13 scores on 250 carries, averaging 4.5 yards per tote. Cook added 53 catches for 510 yards.

The Vikings were 6-2 when Cook had at least 100 yards from scrimmage in 2019. That included a dazzling all-around performance against Dallas in Week 10, when he racked up 183 total yards.

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The expected focal point of Minnesota's offense in 2020, Cook showed great burst and athleticism in his limited camp reps.

Alexander Mattison (462 yards on 100 carries as a rookie) complements Cook in the backfield, along with Pro Bowl fullback C.J. Ham and running backs Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah.

Packers running back Aaron Jones enjoyed a breakout 2019 season with 1,084 rushing yards while tying for the league lead with 16 rushing touchdowns.

Jones had a career-high 154 yards in Week 16 against the Vikings and rushed for 270 total yards against Minnesota in 2019.

Jamaal Williams and rookie A.J. Dillon are Jones' backups in Green Bay.

Receiving: The Vikings pass catchers are led by a pair of veterans in Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph, but Minnesota's depth includes plenty of young potential.

Thielen missed roughly half the 2019 season, but tied with Rudolph and Stefon Diggs for the team lead with six touchdown catches.

Diggs was traded to Buffalo in the offseason, and the Vikings used one of the picks in the deal — No. 22 overall — to take LSU's Justin Jefferson. The rookie, second-year wide out Bisi Johnson and veteran addition Tajaé Sharpe make up the Vikings top wide receivers group, with Chad Beebe, K.J. Osborn and Dan Chisena providing depth.

Second-year tight end Irv Smith, Jr., could be primed for a big 2020 season, as he looked smooth and athletic in camp. Rudolph and Smith are joined by third-year tight end Tyler Conklin, whose versatility and reliability allows the Vikings to line up in multiple tight ends sets.

Green Bay's Davante Adams was his usual self in 2019, recording 83 catches and 997 yards with five scores in just 12 games.

He is the veteran leader of a group that also includes Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and Malik Turner.

Marcedes Lewis — who had 15 receptions for 156 yards and a score in 2019 — is listed as the No. 1 tight end on Green Bay's depth chart.

Defense: The Vikings underwent a bit of a roster overhaul on defense, with multiple veterans no longer in Purple.

But the core group of Danielle Hunter, Shamar Stephen, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith and Harris are all back. They will demand the same level of play as recent seasons.

Minnesota's cornerbacks group features young and fresh faces in Mike Hughes and Holton Hill — plus rookies Jeff Gladney and Cameron — but that group was among the bright spots in camp.

Zimmer and the Vikings defense are no stranger to Rodgers, and hope recent addition Yannick Ngakoue can put pressure on the future Hall of Famer.

A note to watch: former Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is now a senior advisor in Minnesota who could offer some new wrinkles for the Vikings in 2020.

Green Bay's defense is led by a pair of menacing pass rushers in Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith (no relation). The duo combined for 25.5 sacks in 2019, including 4.0 in a late-season win against the Vikings.

Defensive tackle Kenny Clark, a 2019 Pro Bowler, added 6.0 sacks from the interior. Cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King teamed up for seven total interceptions in 2019, with King picking off Cousins twice in 2019.

The Vikings defense ranked sixth in 2019 by allowing 18.9 points per game, while Green Bay was ninth at 19.6 points per game allowed.

Special Teams: Minnesota's kicking operation features plenty of continuity as kicker Dan Bailey, punter Britton Colquitt and long snapper Austin Cutting are back from a season ago.

Bailey ended the regular season and playoffs with 22 straight successful field goals, and was red hot in camp. Colquitt had a gross average of 45.2 yards on 59 punts with no touchbacks and set the Vikings single-season record for net average at 42.6. Cutting was efficient and reliable as a rookie.

Minnesota's return game will seemingly be handled by Osborn, a fifth-round rookie who is listed as both the kick and punt returner after a strong camp. He returned 16 punts for 255 yards (15.9 average) and 10 kickoffs for 201 yards (20.1 average) in his senior season at Miami.

Green Bay is also a veteran group, as kicker Mason Crosby, punter JK Scott and long snapper Hunter Bradley are entering their third season together.

Crosby made 22 of 24 field goals in 2019, and Scott averaged 44.0 yards per punt.

Tyler Ervin will be the top return option for the Packers.

An early test

It's just Week 1, but Sunday's Border Battle could go a long way in determining the NFC North champion.

The Vikings and Packers have combined for four of the past five division titles.

In the two seasons Minnesota has claimed the NFC North in that span (2015 and 2017), the Vikings are a combined 3-1 against Green Bay.

And in 2016 and 2019, years in which Green Bay won the division, the Packers are a combined — you guessed it — 3-1 against Minnesota.

In other words, the winner of Sunday's game is already in first place in the NFC North.

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