The modern NFL is predicated on passing to win. Passing plays are significantly more impactful than running plays, and only ten teams across the league have running offenses that are more valuable than a league-average offensive play, according to DVOA. Conversely, 23 passing offenses are better than league average.
And yet, the ability to run is still viewed as a critical facet of offensive design and playcalling, The Green Bay Packers, who possess the fourth-ranked rushing offense by DVOA, have achieved that mark thanks to the league’s most prevalent use of zone blocking. Meanwhile, their defense has made significant inroads in recent weeks to reduce the number of big plays they have allowed on the ground, thanks to a significant tweak to how plays and assignments get communicated.
This week in Minnesota, the Packers will surely need both of those facets to continue on their more successful pathways. Even without Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ offense is dangerous, and the Packers still need to respect the running game to the extent that they do not give up those explosive plays. On offense, the Packers’ passing game remains inconsistent at best, so Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams will need to get the ball regularly to make this offense as effective as possible.
We’ll see this evening just how well the Packers are able to control the run on both sides of the football. If they prove to be the better team in both areas, they should be well on their way to a playoff bye.
‘Stage is set’ for Packers on Monday night | Packers.com
The Packers still have a shot at home-field advantage if they win out. Getting a win tonight in Minneapolis would be a massive boost for any number of reasons.
Blake Martinez bolsters Green Bay Packers' run defense by keeping everyone on same page | Packersnews.com
The Packers have made an adjustment to their defensive playcalling in recent weeks, asking Martinez to make sure all of his teammates in the front seven are aligned properly. This has been the result of players missing an assignment or change in alignment, and with Martinez taking a more active role, the team has improved against the run quite a bit.
The secret to the NFL's best rushing teams - Why zone blocking is here to stay | ESPN
Meanwhile, both the Packers and Vikings are among the league leaders in their use of zone running concepts -- Green Bay leads the league in zone run rate while Minnesota is fourth. It should come as no surprise, since both Matt LaFleur and Vikings assistant Gary Kubiak are ingrained in the Shanahan offensive system.
Santa Claus came early this year for entire Packers defense | Packers Wire
Preston Smith served as Santa for the defense this week, delivering gifts of personalized scooters to his entire unit.
Marshawn Lynch visiting Seahawks amid RB injuries - NFL.com
Seattle's loss to the Cardinals yesterday keeps the Packers' home-field hopes alive. However, they will need the Seahawks to beat San Francisco next week despite a roster depleted by injuries to get there (in addition to winning out themselves, of course).
Joshua Tree National Park authorities announce the discovery of unidentified human remains - CNN
Police are looking for clues to the dead body's identity, but they still haven't found what they're looking for yet.