On Nov. 22, the Minnesota Vikings lost at home to the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota entered that game 7-2 and riding a five-game winning streak.
It didn’t matter. The Packers cruised to a 30-13 win.
Thus, you can’t fault Gregg Giannotti, who grew up a Vikings fan, for not feeling too confident about Minnesota’s prospects in Green Bay this Sunday.
Or can you?
“You got to be kidding me,” Vikings play-by-play voice Paul Allen said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones, scoffing at Giannotti’s skepticism. “Well, I know we’re 1-10-1 against Green Bay the last 12, so there is that, and Aaron Rodgers potentially is elite, and there is that, and Lambeau is tough, and there is that. But if you do a deep dive on this Green Bay team right now – and this isn’t necessarily just (based on) the Arizona game – their offensive line situation is really, really sketchy. Their left tackle, David Bakhtiari, missed the last game. The right tackle, Bryan Bulaga, got hurt during the game. Both their guards barely practiced during the week because they’re battling what I think are significant injuries, especially right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder). And amazingly, Clay Matthews has zero tackles the last two games, and their linebackers and safeties are having some tackling problems at the wrong time of the year and here comes Adrian.”
Peterson leads the league in rushing with 1,418 yards, and Green Bay ranks just 21st in run defense.
Ultimately, though, this game will likely hinge on the play of Teddy Bridgewater, who has seven touchdowns (six pass, one rush) and zero interceptions in his last three games. Allen feels that Bridgewater, who has displayed “craft and cunning and guile” in recent weeks, is developing nicely in his second NFL season.
Still, Bridgewater needs help – or at least decent blocking.
“The thing with Teddy – and this is with all due respect to my favorite team – the protection situation for the Vikings this year has been very sketchy,” Allen said. “It’s been awful at times. It’s gotten better of late. The Vikings are 7-0 this year when Bridgewater is sacked two times or fewer in a game. If they protect Teddy, its proven out through his 27 games that he will make you pay. Now, when we’ve had big-spot games and we played really good teams – like at Denver, at Arizona or Seattle or Green Bay here – the team has lost all of them, and quite frequently, Teddy has been battered. They’ve stopped Adrian and they’ve done a really good job to slow the running game, and Teddy has not been able to get through it. But I think he’s at a stage now where everybody’s playing so confidently.”
It’s showing in the box scores. Minnesota has scored 87 points in its last two games – something it hasn’t done since 1998, when it came within one game of the Super Bowl.
“There’s still more to the story with Teddy,” Allen said. “But I’m telling you, if you protect him well, he will make you pay.”