The Green Bay Packers are entering the 2022 season with some sky-high expectations once again. Coming off of three consecutive 13-win seasons to begin Matt LaFleur’s tenure as head coach, they are looking to carry some of that success over into the postseason.
Green Bay has dominated the NFC North, winning the division eight times in the last 11 seasons. Unfortunately for them that success hasn’t translated into the playoffs as they have gone 7-8, failing to advance beyond the NFC Championship Game. They are 0-4 in that game and last season was eliminated by the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round.
While the playoffs are months away, the Packers will be looking to set the tone early and often during the season. They will have a chance to build an early lead in the division race as they are facing off with their rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, in Week 1 on the road.
What can we expect to see from Aaron Rodgers and company in their first game of the season? Here are three bold predictions for the Packers in their Week 1 matchup with the Vikings.
3. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon Go Off
The Minnesota Vikings’ defense struggled mightily last season, ranking 24th in points allowed and 30th in yardage. They will be put to the test right away against a Green Bay Packers team that has had plenty of success against them in recent seasons.
Despite going 1-1 against each other last season, the Packers scored 68 points in the two matchups combined. Minnesota had no answer for Green Bay on the ground and it will be more of the same in Week 1.
The Packers know that Aaron Rodgers is more than capable of carrying the offense; he is the back-to-back MVP for a reason. But, they have done a good job upgrading the roster around him and the running back position is in excellent hands with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon.
Those two will combine for at least 200 yards on the ground as the Vikings will have no answer for the Packers’ ground attack. In the first matchup, last season Jones was sidelined, but Dillon still managed 53 yards on 11 carries. In the second matchup, when both were healthy, they combined for 139 yards on 22 carries with Patrick Taylor adding 18 yards on six carries.
2. Rookie Wide Receiver Has Big Debut
The Green Bay Packers made a move up the draft board this year to select wide receiver Christian Watson out of North Dakota State in the second round. They doubled down at the position, selecting Romeo Doubs in the fourth round out of Nevada.
They will be part of the group tasked with replacing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s production in the lineup. Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders while Valdes-Scantling signed a free agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
While a lot of attention was given to Watson heading into workouts, Doubs has been making a name for himself as well. In Week 1, it will be Doubs that makes a bigger impact than Watson despite being selected two rounds later.
Doubs will catch his first career touchdown in the game, finishing with 50 yards and three receptions. Watson, who seemingly has some work to do climbing the depth chart, will be held catchless in his NFL debut.
1. Packers Defense Dominates
The Minnesota Vikings have struggled on defense the last few seasons, but no such struggles have occurred for their offense. With Kirk Cousins at the helm, they have rolled as he is surrounded by one of the strongest skill position groups in the NFL.
At running back they have Dalvin Cook and his backup, Andrew Mattison, picks up right where he leaves off whenever his number is called. Justin Jefferson is already one of the best wide receivers in the NFL entering Year 3 and is flanked by Adam Theilen and K.J. Osborn. The team has high hopes for tight end Irv Smith Jr. as well.
But, the Packers have arguably their best defensive unit in the Aaron Rodgers era. The Vikings will be the first team to face that unit and will be met with a rude awakening.
Green Bay is loaded at every level of the defense and they will get off to a hot start against Minnesota. They will force three turnovers and surrender under 300 total yards in the game, helping get the Packers off on the right foot.
The defense will be key in the Packers starting the season 1-0 with a 27-10 victory over their division rivals.