We’ve all heard of moral victories, but somehow the Green Bay Packers experienced what could be called a moral loss on Christmas Eve.
The Packers saw a two-score lead evaporate in a near instant to the worst team in football and only escaped overtime because it took Bryce Young a split second too long to spike the football.
The resulting 33-30 win over the terrible Carolina Panthers left Packers fans feeling a little empty inside. While thankful to still be in playoff contention, giving up yet another career game to an otherwise bad quarterback didn’t quell the calls for defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s ouster.
Now the Packers head to Minneapolis to face the arch-rival Minnesota Vikings in what’s all but an elimination game. Win and their playoff odds increase substantially. Lose, and they’re all but done. That goes for both teams.
APC sat down with our sister site The Daily Norseman to talk about Sunday night’s game in this week’s Five Questions with the Enemy.
1. The Vikings are surprisingly turning to Jaren Hall this week at quarterback. Why do you think he’s getting the call and not Josh Dobbs? Or is this a ruse where Hall starts then Dobbs/Mullens comes in later?
At this point it’s hard to tell exactly what the heck is going on with the quarterback situation in Minnesota. I think a part of the reason he’s getting a shot this weekend is that the Vikings need to do at least a little bit of evaluation on him because he’s the only one of the three quarterbacks currently active that could, potentially, be a part of the long-term future of the team. Dobbs and Mullens aren’t going to be here long-term, and whether the Vikings choose to bring Kirk Cousins back this offseason or not Hall needs an opportunity to show that he can actually play in this league.
He has a chance to, at the very least, be a backup for the team going forward, and he only got one quarter in his first start against Atlanta back in Week 9 before suffering a concussion and giving way to The Josh Dobbs Experience™. We don’t really have a good handle on what Hall brings to the table yet, and these final two weeks of the season are as good an opportunity as any to find out.
2. Brian Flores has done a wonderful job with the Vikings defense. How has he done it and do you think he’s a head coach elsewhere in 2024?
Flores’ coaching future is a potentially tricky situation. On one hand, yes, he’s clearly done enough with the Vikings’ defense to show that he deserves an opportunity to be a head coach again, given where the unit was last season in contrast to where they are now. On the other hand, he’s still suing the National Football League for everything that happened during his tenure in Miami and I’m not sure how that’s going to affect his ability to get interviews for head coaching jobs or to move on to another team. If that wasn’t on the table I’m sure that Flores would be at the top of the list for potential head coaching openings around the league. Maybe the lawsuit won’t affect things as much as I think it potentially could but it’s something that could certainly factor into how teams view him during the offseason.
3. Everyone knows Justin Jefferson. What do Jordan Addison and K.J. Osborn bring to the table against a Jaire Alexander-less secondary assuming Addison plays?
Addison has been a solid addition to the Vikings’ receiving corps at this point, as his route-running ability and ability to get open have made him a valuable target while Jefferson was out for seven games. He currently leads the Vikings in touchdowns, which is something I don’t think anyone would have expected going into the season. If teams focus too much on Jefferson, Addison has the ability to make them pay. Osborn has been steady over the past couple of years but has had issues with drops this season. He’s definitely more of a WR3 than a WR2 at this point, and now that Jefferson’s healthy again that’s the role he can settle into. With the Packers being short-handed in the secondary in this one, if Hall can keep his composure he should be able to find those guys on a frequent basis.
4. We talked earlier about what the Vikings defense does well. They do struggle rushing the passer. According to PFF they’re 32nd in the league. How can Jordan Love use that to his advantage?
The pass rush has definitely had its struggles this year, which is why Brian Flores’ defense blitzes at a higher rate than any defense in football. Love will have to make sure he knows where Danielle Hunter is at all times, as he’s basically the only player on defense that can win pass rush reps on a regular basis, even more so now that D.J. Wonnum (who had been having his best season) is now on injured reserve. I’m sure the Packers will be slanting their blocking schemes towards Hunter all night long, as they should, and if he can avoid Hunter he’s going to have the opportunity to make plays against a Minnesota secondary that is now without Byron Murphy and could be without Mekhi Blackmon in this one as well.
5. The DraftKings Sportsbook has the Vikings as a slight home favorite. How do you see this game shaking out?
With all of the injuries that both teams have going into this one, I think we’re going to see a relatively low-scoring game. The fact that this is a home game for the Vikings works to their advantage, I think, and if they can get out to an early lead and get the crowd into things they should be able to keep their relatively slim playoff hopes alive and come out of this one with a win. I’ll put this one on a 20-17 Vikings win to get them back to .500 on the season.