The Green Bay Packers are set to take on the Minnesota Vikings in the second straight NFC North rivalry matchup to begin the 2019 NFL season. After knocking off the Bears in the season opener, the Packers are looking to make a strong statement to the rest of the NFC with another win over a perceived playoff contender.
Aaron Rodgers and the offense have received a lot of scrutiny after a rough performance in Week 1. While the offense is going to need to step up this week, the Packers will also have their hands full defensively.
Minnesota has one of the most star-studded offenses in the entire NFL. Kirk Cousins has always seen a lot of backlash since his days with the Washington Redskins and a lot of fans were frustrated with him last season in his first year of a big contract with the Vikings. In Week 1, he didn’t have to do much, but he looked sharp.
Cousins completed eight of his 10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. Dalvin Cook, on the other hand, looks 100 percent healthy for the first time in awhile and broke off 111 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Minnesota also has two star receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs for the Packers to contend with.
All of that being said, the Packers’ biggest X-Factor this week is defensive tackle Kenny Clark. Why does he deserve that kind of pressure over every other player on the roster?
Quite simply, the Packers have to be strong in the middle and slow down Cook and the Vikings’ run game. Green Bay cannot allow Cook to have the kind of field day that he had against the Atlanta Falcons last week. Racking up 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns would be a quick way for the Packers to lose this week.
Clark looked great against the Bears and made some massive plays to stop the run. He broke through the offensive line and met the running back in the backfield on multiple occasions. Green Bay needs to see more of that this week.
Mike Pettine is one of the best defensive coordinators in the game and he has the personnel that he needs this season. The Packers shut down the Bears’ offense last week, holding them to just three points in the game. That kind of dominance isn’t likely this week against a much better Vikings’ offense, but they should be targeting allowing only 14 to 17 points.
If the Packers are going to have success defensively, it all starts with Clark and the defensive line. Stopping the run is a major key and they must force Cousins to make plays. Clark is also capable of helping put pressure on the quarterback, which is another major key for the Packers.
Green Bay will have a great chance to move to 2-0 this week if they can force Cousins to make plays under pressure. He has made big-time mistakes often throughout his career and the Packers need to take advantage of him this week. They have playmakers in the secondary if they front can dominate the Vikings’ offensive line.
Expect to see Clark rise to the occasion this week. He is being recognized as a superstar by many this season and he will fit that bill this week with a big-time performance against Minnesota.