Coming off a 13-3 season, many would expect the Packers to be favored for their season opener against the Vikings. However, the Packers arrived in Minneapolis as one point dogs for the game against division rivals Minnesota.
Many pundits and talking heads on TV have repeatedly exclaimed that the Packers did not play like a 13-3 team last year and that anything but a worse record this season would be a shock. They were pointing to a lack of depth along the defensive line and worries about the quality of the right side of the offensive line as well a complete lack of receivers.
There were a few dissenting voices, like this article on GodsofOdds, predicting that Green Bay were candidates for going all the way.
Of course it is far too early to try to realistically predict what kind of a season this will become, but trying to predict the future is part of human nature and good fun as well, so we will give it our best shot.
What did we learn from last Sunday’s game?
Rodgers seemed to relish playing in the empty building in Minneapolis, as the global pandemic kept the fans away. He took advantage of going against some inexperienced cornerbacks and an unbelievable lack of pressure from the pass rush. By the time the game was done, he had passed for four touchdowns and 364 yards, as the Green Bay offense had its way with a heavily renovated Vikings defense.
Davante Adams made catches all over the field and ended with two TDs and a franchise-record-tying 14 catches for 156 yards. This was the actually the most points allowed, since Mike Zimmer was hired back in 2014, and also the most points ever surrendered in a season opener by the Vikings.
There are several possible interpretations of this.
1) The Viking defense is weaker than anticipated. Minnesota had no choice but to reorganize the defense because of salary-cap necessity after signing huge new contacts with Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook. The young cornerbacks are not up to the task yet and this will be a difficult year for the Vikings defense, at least if the opposing quarterback will have all the time in the world almost never being pressured. Of course the Viking pass rush is likely to improve when two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter returns from injury, but last Sunday the pass rush was abysmal. Minnesota sorely missed Everson Griffin.
2) Green Bay’s offense will be even better in Matt LaFleur’s second year. This is not an unreasonable assumption, and was in fact predicted by many pundits leading up to the season. It is entirely possible that the Packers made the Minnesota defense look a lot worse than it actually is.
3) One game of football consists of too few plays to reasonably try to take anything much away from this one game at all.
Personally I lean heavily towards the Packers offense being even better than most people realize, but also that this was only one game and realistically there is not much we can take away from it at all.
Giving up 34 points sounds very bad, but the reality is that 16 of those points were conceded when the game was more or less already won. The Green Bay defense only gave up 10 points the first three quarters and did not look at all bad.
I just noticed that a sharp looking tipster on an online platform made a free betting tip that Green Bay will cover the spread next week, even if we definitely do not recommend that you follow him, it is interesting that I seem far from alone in rating Green Bay’s chances highly this season.