After losing back-to-back games to two of the worst teams in the league while having significant rest advantages in both games, I think we can comfortably put the nail in the coffin on this Green Bay Packers season being anything but a learning experience for the young players. Right now the Packers are a very bad football team, and will probably only be favored in three more games the rest of the season.
~~~ Week 7 Objective Power Rankings ~~~— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 25, 2023
Lions, Dolphins, Saints get downgraded, Jags & Falcons (?) moving up pic.twitter.com/hAqJ5QBvoH
When DraftKings lines first dropped on Monday morning, the Packers were actually one-point favorites at home against Minnesota, but that has flipped, with the Vikings now favored after beating the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
While Minnesota had gotten off to a rough start, they currently sit just 1⁄2 game back of Tampa Bay for the seventh and final playoff spot and have a point differential of -1. The biggest contributor to the Vikings' struggles so far have been fumbles. No team has lost more than Minnesota’s nine. Four of those come from quarterback Kirk Cousins, which ranks third worst in the league. The Vikings have lost nine of their thirteen total fumbles so far. Over the course of time, teams tend to recover about half of their fumbles, so from a ‘fumble luck’ perspective, Minnesota is at -2.5. The fumbles are such a big part of their story that is actually messes with the EPA data. While Minnesota ranks 20th in EPA-per-rush, they are actually seventh in rushing success rate. Success rate is a measurement of ‘did you increase your likelihood of getting a first down compared to your pre-play probability’ so it vastly downscales the impact of turnovers and big plays alike. Just looking at EPA-per-rush would tell you this is a bad Vikings running game, but I don’t think that’s true when you dive a bit deeper. It’s probably not good, with below-average rankings in yards-per-carry, and if the fumble problems are sustainable rather than just a blip, that’s going to be a problem no matter how efficient a team is, but with Green Bay’s run defense ranking 25th in EPA allowed-per-rush and 26th in success rate, it doesn’t even require that much competence to run all over this defense.
In the passing game, superstar receiver Justin Jefferson will miss out due to injury, but I regret to inform you that the Vikings may have hit on another first-round receiver. Jordan Addison isn’t off to the hot start that Jefferson got off to, but he certainly looks quite good. His 1.73 adjusted yards per route run ranks solidly above average and is only climbing with a higher workload. He is just one behind league leader Tyreek Hill in touchdown catches with six. He ranks twelfth in total receiving EPA sandwiched between Ceedee Lamb and Davante Adams. It looks like the Vikings have a dynamic receiving duo for the future.
Overall, the Vikings sport an average passing attack, though that is harmed by Cousins’ fumbles. and the fact Jefferson has missed time. Cousins has been pressured 94 times this season, which ranks as the eighth-most in the league. Right-guard Ed Ingram has been the primary issue in pass protection, allowing 24 pressures by himself, ten more than anyone else on the Vikings line. The tackle combo of Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill is very solid, and Ezra Cleveland is even having a solid year at guard. Garrett Bradbury is still manning the center position, so we should get at least one snap of Kenny Clark throwing him into the stands.
Like many matchups against the Vikings, this will probably have to be a Kenny Clark game if the Packers are going to be disruptive up front. Rashan Gary has been the only EDGE player this year to produce above a league-average level, and the tackles for Minnesota are solid. Clark will need to wreck the game up front to force Minnesota into third-and-longs.
Defensively, the Vikings are very interesting. Brian Flores is an absolute psycho with his blitz rates. Second- and third-level defenders have more pass-rush snaps than any team I have covered in the past few years. What this will provide is an opportunity for is chunk plays if you can get the ball to the receiver around the blitz. Love has done alright against the blitz this year. He’s only completing 54% of his passes but does sport a 3:0 TD:INT ratio in those situations. How Love performs when blitzed will likely dictate the outcome of the game.
It almost feels pointless to even bother looking at Minnesota’s run defense since the Packers cannot run the football on anyone right now with how poorly the offensive line is moving bodies. The Packers are 29th in run-block-win-rate right now and no one comes out looking good. Unless Aaron Jones is able to make multiple guys miss, it’s just hard to see Green Bay being able to move the ball efficiently on the ground even though Minnesota’s run defense looks modestly below average.
After the last two games, it’s hard to pick Green Bay over almost anyone. Minnesota is a flawed team, for certain. Their cornerbacks and linebackers are not good, and their defensive front is nothing special, but the reality is that the Green Bay Packers are a bad football team right now. And bad football teams don’t tend to win football games.