GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – After starting off looking like a fringe playoff team, the Packers have looked like a team that could wind up with a top-five pick, but not all is lost in the season thus far.
Now, with three home games in the next four weeks, the Packers need to take advantage of playing at Lambeau Field as they welcome the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, October 29, at noon.
Local 5 Sports Director Burke Griffin takes a look at five key ingredients to bake the cake and bring the Packers back on the right path toward a respectable season.
Is Aaron Jones 100% Healthy?
The best offensive player on the Green Bay Packers is Aaron Jones, and it’s not even close, so having him at 100% health is key to a Green & Gold victory. Jones has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury that has made him play less than fans are used to seeing, but there is optimism that he is going to be back at full strength this week against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings rank right in the middle of the NFL in terms of run defense at 15th, but Aaron Jones should still be able to take full advantage of a team he’s had success against in his career.
In nine career games, Jones has 122 carries for 698 yards and five touchdowns. Most recently, on New Year’s Day of 2023, Jones ran wild for 111 yards on 14 carries for an average of 7.9 yards per carry.
Look for Aaron Jones to be a key factor should the Packers offense finally show the early season form against the Vikings.
Justin Jefferson Who? Jordan Addison Shines
There is no doubt that Justin Jefferson is a top two and not two wide receiver in the NFL, but after going on the injury reserve because of a hamstring, the Vikings were looking for another target.
That is where rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison steps up. After a career game against the San Francisco 49ers, Addison is a prime target for Kirk Cousins, and the Packers will need to keep as close of an eye on him as they would if it was Justin Jefferson.
The rookie out of USC has been great for Minnesota over the last three games, scoring four touchdowns with 215 yards receiving. To put that in comparison, Christian Watson has 143 yards on the season. The Packers better send a viable option to cover Addison because if they don’t, it’s going to be a very long afternoon at Lambeau Field.
Victories at Lambeau Field
The Packers play three games at home over the next four weeks, meaning the Packers have a good shot at getting back to a respectable record should they protect the home field. This ultimately relies on fans showing up and showing out to the games, not having a repeat situation of the Detroit Lions game where the naked eye could see a sea of blue.
The Green & Gold will face a Minnesota team that has certainly turned their season around after a huge win against the San Francisco 49ers. Then they’ll take on the Los Angeles Rams, a game that should be close on paper. They’ll hit the road to play Pittsburgh before coming back home to play the Los Angeles Chargers. Green Bay, over the next four games, must hit three victories to get back on track.
First Half Woes
It’s impossible even to fathom how bad Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay Packers offense have been in the first half of games through the first eight weeks. Jordan Love and those surrounding him almost scored more points on the bye week than they have in the last four games.
Green Bay has been outscored 63-6 in the first half of its last four games and hasn’t scored a touchdown before halftime in any of them. That is a major red flag for anyone with a brain. Why is this happening? You can be the judge, but the offense needs to get going. Otherwise, the Vikings will take an early lead and might never give it back.
Now or Never for Joe Barry
The Packers defense is, again, being shredded on the ground and is ranked 30th out of 32 teams in the NFL. This seems to be a recurring theme for Joe Barry, and why the Packers haven’t been able to stop the run has been a mystery for years.
Just through the last three games, the Packers are giving up around 150 rushing yards per game, which ranks just above Denver and Carolina. Now, Minnesota doesn’t have the greatest run game, but Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers can go for a sneaky 100 yards each if the Green & Gold aren’t careful.
The injury report looks much better than it did off the bye, but still questionable are Jaire Alexander and De’Vondre Campbell, who are a major part of the Packers’ defense. Getting a healthy Devonte Wyatt and Preston Smith is a major plus, but who knows exactly what will end up on the grounds of Lambeau Field.