It’s only Week 2, but Sunday night might decide the NFC North, as the Packers (1-0) travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings (1-0) in their first game at U.S. Bank Stadium. If the Vikings can hold serve at home and get a one-game lead on Green Bay, anything is possible. But if they fall behind by a game – while still having to go to Lambeau on Dec. 24 – the division is going to be an uphill climb.
Then again, Sunday night could be an uphill climb for Minnesota, which didn’t score an offensive touchdown in their 25-16 win over the Titans in Week 1. That worked against Tennessee; it won’t work against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay.
“The personnel is so hard to predict right now for the Minnesota Vikings as to who they’re going to have in long term and how effective the quarterback play will be,” Minneapolis WCCO host Mike Max said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Plus the offensive line. It wasn’t all because of the offensive line the other day, but they didn’t run the football very well. So there’s a lot of questions about this team that you can’t quite figure out yet.”
Shaun Hill was 18-of-33 for 236 yards on Sunday. He did what he had to do. He moved the chains and didn’t turn the ball over.
He’ll need to do more against the Packers.
“Shaun Hill kind of manages the game,” Max said. “He’s not a big-time quarterback. He didn’t play poorly the other day, but he’s not a playmaker. In talking to Mike Zimmer, he said the reason they didn’t run the ball well is there was something different every time. There’d be a collapse, there’d be a guy here, a guy there, so they weren’t as concerned about that as you might think. They really want to establish Peterson. He didn’t really play at all during the preseason. They tried to save him so he’d have more tread left on the tire. He tried that last year and had a terrible first game against San Francisco to open the year and then was pretty good after that.”
Peterson rushed 19 times for 31 yards (1.6 yards per carry) against Tennessee. Sam Bradford’s presence would likely open a few more holes for Peterson, who last year ran for a league-high 1,485 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Sam Bradford was brought in here to be the starting quarterback and he’s not ready yet, doesn’t have the grasp of the playbook,” Max said. “Maybe he will by the end of this week, maybe he won’t. But Shaun Hill, he’s adequate, but he’s not going to score a lot of touchdowns as your quarterback.”
Minnesota also doesn’t have a feature receiver. Stefon Diggs had seven catches for 103 yards against Tennessee, but make no mistake: He’s no Randy Moss.
“They have to kind of do it by committee and they can’t just throw jump balls,” Max said. “They don’t have people that are that athletic when they get in the red zone.”
Green Bay, meanwhile, beat Jacksonville, 27-23, in its season-opener, with Rodgers accounting for three touchdowns (two pass, one rush).
Sunday’s kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. ET.