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Week 16 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 23, Minnesota Vikings 10


What you need to know

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-10 to improve their record to 12-3 and clinch the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers completed 26 of 40 passes for 216 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Aaron Jones was the star of the night for the Packers, gaining 154 yards with two touchdowns on 23 carries. Jones also caught two passes for six yards. Jamaal Williams rushed six times for 33 yards and caught two passes for 19 yards before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 116 yards and Alan Lazard totaled 45 yards on five receptions. Jimmy Graham caught one pass on one target for 16 yards.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings had everything in front of them to play for in week 16 and the offense ended up laying a big egg on Monday Night Football. The struggles by Kirk Cousins on Monday Night Football and prime time games continued after he finished with less than 200 yards passing and an ugly interception. The rushing attack sorely missed Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison with the combination of Boone and Abdullah falling flat. The rushing offense totaled just 57 yards and Cousins was sacked 5 times for a loss of 40 yards. The defense played great in the 1st half and forced 3 turnovers of the Packers while holding a slim lead. Then the wheels fell off with Aaron Jones breaking free for 2 touchdowns, including a 50+ yard run off the edge. The defense simply got tired and broke down because the offense could not stay on the field. It was an ugly game that does not instill much confidence heading into the playoffs for the Vikings. The plan is to rest Cook for the playoffs, but they may lose all momentum in doing so. The Vikings take on the Bears in week 17 to close out the regular season and they have several things to get right before heading into wild card weekend.

Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 40 - 216 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0
Aaron Rodgers completed 26 of 40 passes for 216 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, while also rushing three times for negative three yards. This was the third game of the season where Rodgers failed to throw a touchdown pass, but it was also only the third time that Rodgers has thrown an interception, and his first since week six. Since week’s seven and eight, where Rodgers combined for 734 yards passing and eight touchdowns, he has failed to throw for more than 243 yards in any one game and has thrown for multiple touchdowns in only one of those seven games (a four touchdown outing against the lowly Giants). If you take away Adams 13 catches and 116 yards receiving, Rodgers completed only 13 passes for 100 yards. Rodgers lack of the prolific stats we have become accustomed to seeing from him is due to a combination of the Packers riding Aaron Jones, as well as the Green Bay offense just having no consistent secondary target behind Adams. It is hard to underestimate a team that has won 12 games, but assuming the Eagles make the playoffs, the Packers have a grand total of three wins against playoff teams, with two of them coming against the Vikings and one against the Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs. They were blown out by the 49ers and it feels as though they lack the firepower on offense to keep up with teams like the Saints, Seahawks or 49ers. Specifically, Rodgers is being dared to complete passes to other receivers not named Adams in the red zone, and that becomes increasing difficult when the field is short. While the Packers came away with a clutch victory against the Vikings, this wasn’t the type of game that elicits confidence in Green Bay making a deep playoff run, especially when Rodgers looks as mortal as we have ever seen him throughout his NFL career.

RB Aaron Jones, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 154 - 2, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (3 targets)
Aaron Jones rushed 23 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers win over the Vikings on Monday. The Packers have Jones to thank for this win, as outside of him, the offense could get nothing going against a Vikings secondary that kept them in check. Interestingly enough, what really helped the Packers put this game away was Jamaal Williams leaving the game with an injury, as that forced Green Bay to put the ball into Jones’ hands. It is maddening to see Jones carve up opposing defenses when given a large workload, only to see the Packers coaches get away from him in following games. Jones first touchdown run of the night came with the Packers facing a first and 10 from the Vikings 12 yard line. Rodgers took the snap under center and handed the ball off to Jones, who was running off-tackle to the left side of the field. Jones got good blocking up front which enabled him to get to the edge of the line and then cut back once to the middle of the field. From there Jones just outran the Vikings defense on his way to a untouched 12 yard touchdown run. With the Packers clinging to a 17-10 lead in the 4th quarter, Jones came up big once again, breaking the game wide open with a 56 yard touchdown run. The Packers had the ball at their own 44 yard line, facing a first and ten. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and handed the ball off to Jones who was lined up to his right. Jones patiently waited for a hole to open up as he reached the line, cutting the ball outside to his left. He then stutter stepped as his blockers moved their way downfield, which gave him just enough room to cut the ball again to the outside and turn the corner. From there, Jones took off down the sideline and there wasn’t a Vikings defender within 10 yards of him on his way to the endzone. This play was made possible by the Packers receivers, who sealed the edge and allowed Jones to get to the sideline and outrun the rest of the Vikings secondary.

RB Jamaal Williams, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 33 - 0, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (2 targets)
Jamaal Williams rushed six times for 33 yards and caught two passes on three targets for 19 yards in the Packers win over the Vikings on Monday. Williams was effective when given the ball in the first half, although he was unable to score on his two touches inside the 10 yard line. Williams ended up leaving the game with a shoulder injury in the second half, paving the way for a monster game by Jones. This unfortunate injury for Williams was the catalyst for the Packers win, as Jones is by far the most explosive player on the Green Bay offense, and it is only a matter of time before he breaks a big play when he is given a full compliment of touches. Williams status for the Packers week 17 game against the Lions is uncertain, but given the lack of depth behind him and the fact that the Packers are playing for seeding purposes, expect to see him if he is at full strength. On the flipside, Williams has carved out a role in the Packers offense, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the Packers choose to rest him if the shoulder injury persists.

WR Davante Adams, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 13 - 116 - 0 (16 targets)
Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 116 yards on 16 targets in the Packers win over the Vikings on Monday night. Adams and Jones were the entirety of the Packers offense against the Vikings, and if not for Adams, Minnesota would have stacked the box completely and forced Rodgers to beat them through the air. This was the seventh time in the last eight games where Adams has seen double digit targets, and he has amassed a whopping 93 targets over that span. Adams had a marquee matchup against Pro-Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes, but it was as one sided as it could have been, with Adams routinely getting open in the short and intermediate passing game. It was not a perfect game for Adams though, as he was the intended target on Rodgers only interception, and he lost a fumble for the first time this season. Adams was used as almost a part of the running game, as the Packers chose to go to him on first and second down on 11 of his 13 catches. He played a big part in the Packers moving the ball and putting Jones in advantageous running situations on second and third down, which effectively kept the Packers offense moving the chains throughout this game. With the Packers playing for seeding next week against the Lions, expect another monster game from Adams, who has hit his stride over the second half of the season and looks to be in peak form.

WR Allen Lazard, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (9 targets)
Allen Lazard caught five passes for 45 yards on nine targets in the Packers win over the Vikings on Monday. Lazard and Adams saw 25 of Rodgers 40 targets, and it was even more lopsided than it seems as they combined for 161 of Rodgers 216 passing yards. No other player saw more than three targets. Lazard has earned the trust of Rodgers, which was never more apparent than when Rodgers looked his way on three critical third downs when the Vikings chose to double team Adams. While his stats are not out of this world, Lazard has carved out an important role on the Packers offense and should only see his targets continue to increase as teams choose to try and take Adams out of the Packers game plan.

WR Jake Kumerow, 28 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Jake Kumerow failed to catch a pass on his only target of the game against the Vikings. After the Packers coaches remarked that Kumerow would see an increased role moving forward, he became an afterthought just like Marquez Valdes-Scalding (one catch on one target) and Geronimo Allison (zero catches on two targets, albeit with a two point conversion).

TE Jimmy Graham, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (1 targets)
Jimmy Graham caught one pass 16 yards on one target in the Packers win over the Vikings on Monday. Graham saw the same number of targets as Marcedes Lewis, and was one of six Packers pass catchers to see a singular target. Simply put, Graham has fallen out of favor in the Packers pecking order, which could not have come at a worse time with Green Bay needing more production out of their receiving core. Graham cannot create the separation he needs in the short and intermediate passing game, and despite Rodgers being one of the most accurate passers in the game, Graham has not been able to use his veteran moxy to open up passing lanes for his quarterback. The only thing keeping Graham on the field these days is his blocking, a statement that would have seemed ludicrous five years ago considering his once-incredible athleticism, and what used to be looked at as a lack of blocking ability.


Minnesota Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 31 - 122 - 1 TD / 1 INT (1 targets)
The Monday Night Football curse for Cousins continued with another loss to the Packers. This was more of a team effort than Cousins blowing the entire game, but he certainly did not help things. He threw for under 200 yards this week, a single touchdown, and a bad interception. The offensive line afforded him no time to throw the ball and he was sacked 5 times for a loss of 40 yards. The entire offense struggled and had just 7 first downs the entire game. Cousins lone touchdown was a beautiful 21-yard throw to Diggs in the end zone. It was one of the few deeps shots that worked this week and was a perfect storm of Diggs creating separation and Cousins having enough time to throw. The ball floated just over his outside shoulder for a contested catch and a touchdown. The duo teamed up for a trick play in the second half when they attempted a reverse wide receiver pass. Diggs put plenty of air on the ball and gave Cousins a chance to run under it, but he over estimated how fast Cousins was and the quarterback made a lame diving attempt that was nowhere near the ball. The interception Cousins threw was a deep shot down the field on play action. This is a play that has worked all season with Diggs slanting deep across the middle, but Cousins did not see the other safety break off his coverage and under cut the route. Diggs got up hoping for pass interference on the play, but the Packers had already returned the ball to mid field and took all of the air out of the Vikings sails. Cousins has struggled against teams with winning records this season and has had almost no success on prime-time games outside of a win against Dallas. The Vikings and Cousins are playing poorly at the worst possible time and that could make for a very short playoff run.

RB Mike Boone, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 28 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)
This was Boone’s chance to show that he can handle a bigger role in the Vikings offense and that he should be considered a key piece for the future. Unfortunately, the Packers defense was up for the task this week and shut down almost every aspect of the Vikings offensive game plan. Boone was swarm tackled and often met in the back field before he even had a chance to make a move down field. Boone had 11 carries to just 4 for Abdullah but he was unable to do anything with them and averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. His longest run went for 7 yards and his involvement in the passing game was a single reception for 5 yards. The Vikings sorely need better blocking out of the offensive line and for any combination of Cook or Mattison to come back.

RB Ameer Abdullah, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 27 - 0, Rec: 6 - 31 - 0 (7 targets)
It was supposed to be the Mike Boone show this week, but Abdullah was the only back that seemed to make any sort of dent in the Packers defense. He led the team in targets and receptions and was the only back to average more than 5 yards per carry. HE caught 6 of his 7 targets with the longest going for 10 yards. Despite the immense pressure, the Vikings did not try and employ more screens and quick passes to running backs out of the back field until it was too late. If Mattison does not make it back next week, expect Abdullah to play a much bigger role in the offense against a stout Bears defense. His longest run went for 14 yards this week and accounted for what would have been half of Boone’s total yards on a single carry

RB Alexander Mattison
Ankle sprains are very tricky, especially a high ankle sprain. The Vikings waited until late in the week before ruling out Mattison and they could have really used him. Mattison has now missed 2 straight games and his status for next week is still up in the air as well. Thankfully the Vikings have already clinched a playoff spot, but they will most likely have to come out of the 6th seed to make some sort of run.

RB Dalvin Cook
Cook was ruled out early in the week with the same shoulder injury that forced him out of last week’s game. He was seen on the side line in plain clothes and had no chance of playing this week. The Vikings plan to hold him out again next week and bring him back in time for the play offs. The rushing attack struggled with both Cook and Mattison out this week.

WR Stefon Diggs, 46 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 3 - 57 - 1 (5 targets)
The only person that seemed to make any sort of impact this week was Diggs. He led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns this week and was the only one to make any sort of plays down the field. He had the team’s longest play with a 28-yard catch down the sideline and the only touchdown with a 21-yard back shoulder catch in the end zone. These 2 plays made up the majority of his yards this week and the only 2 other plays of note were negative. The Vikings attempted a trick play with a wide receiver reverse pass. Diggs took the reverse pitch and tried to find Cousins leaking out of the back field down the sideline. It looks like Diggs could have easily tucked the ball and run for the 1st down on the 3rd and 4 play, but he led Cousins too far and the pass fell incomplete. Cousins made a very poor diving attempt at the ball and then the Vikings went for it on 4th down with a deep shot to Thielen that also fell incomplete. Diggs was also targeted on the interception thrown by Cousins. It was the same deep drag route on a play action play that has worked all season. Cousins did not see the other safety break off coverage and come underneath for the leaping interception. Diggs was looking for a pass interference flag but there was none to be found. The touchdown saved his day, but it was a mostly bad day for Diggs like the rest of the Vikings offense.

WR Adam Thielen, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 (4 targets)
It has now been 2 weeks with Thielen back in the lineup and something seems to just not be right. Thielen was held without a single catch this week and was given a single carry that went for 2 yards on an end around. It does not make a lot of sense why the Vikings would use him in back to back weeks on rushing attempts after he is coming back from a hamstring injury. Thielen tied for 3rd on the team with 4 targets but did not make a single catch. His best chance was borderline pass interference with the defender getting tangled and taking him to the ground. Thielen still almost made the catch on the ground and the Vikings elected not to challenge the no pass interference call. It has been a tough comeback for Thielen thus far and the Vikings will really need him to get going in the playoffs if they want to make any sort of run.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets)
The turn around this season for Rudolph came to a screeching halt against the Packers. The big tight end was mic’d up for Monday Night Football and did his best to get his teammates pumped up and ready for this game. Unfortunately, his play on the field was hampered by an ineffective Cousins. Rudolph was targeted twice and only made a single catch for 7 yards. The other pass was a poor throw by Cousins to Rudolph who had not even broken out of his route yet. It was a poor game for the entire Viking offense and Rudolph was no exception.