It’s fitting that Packer week should coincide this year with Halloween season and its endless television horror movie marathons. What could be a more apt metaphor for this year’s Viking season than an unending parade of scary movies? And with the Packers coming in this week things are only going to get scarier, or at least that’s what traumatized Viking fans seem to believe.
The Vikings have had some success against Green Bay in recent years, but for the most part the Packers have been Jason to the Vikings’ screaming half-naked college co-ed. This year’s first Packer-Viking match-up figures to descend into slasher movie carnage again, with the Packers on the relentless machete-waving march and the Vikings stumbling bloody and blinded through the wilderness.
The Viking fan looking for a glimmer of hope amid the darkness might turn to the Packer injury report, which currently features such big names as Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb. But of course we know the injury report doesn’t mean diddly poo when it comes to the Packers. Like some hideous creation of a horror movie mad scientist, when the Packers lose one of their vital parts they just grow a new one to replace it. And keep on coming after you.
It’s a somewhat different cast of marauding Packer slasher movie villains coming to the Metrodome this year, but the result will probably be the same as always. By game’s end Viking fans will have these new names to inscribe in their Packer Book of the Dead.
Randall Cobb was beginning to haunt our nightmares but he’s been sent temporarily to the underworld. In his place the Vikings will face a new slot receiver menace, Jarrett Boykin. The Vikings have been insanely soft between the hashes this season, and that’s where Boykin operates. If the Vikes go to their standard play-back-to-guard-against-the-deep-ball defense, look for Boykin to have a huge night as Aaron Rodgers dinks-and-dunks his way down the field.
Forget horror movies, Jermichael Finley knows what real fear is after suffering temporary paralysis in the wake of a big on-field collision last week. Who knows when or if Finley will ever be back in the lineup for the Packers; in the meantime, Green Bay will fill in at tight end with some combination of Andrew Quarless and former UFA Brandon Bostick.
Quarless is the more experienced player but he’s also frightfully limited as an actual pass receiver. Bostick provides the more intriguing option in terms of picking up Finley’s production, but he’s still in the project stage. Of course we’ve seen the Vikings transform plenty of unheralded players into superstars over the years, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the raw Bostick had a big night working against the Vikings’ coverage-challenged linebacker corps and porous secondary.
Being a running back on the Packers is normally like playing Renfield to Aaron Rodgers’ Dracula, but things are different this year with the Packers scaring up more of a balanced offense in hopes of sparing Rodgers a little punishment. Early on it looked like the Packers would have to resort to the running-back-by-committee approach they’ve employed in past years, but then Eddie Lacy stepped up. The last three weeks Lacy has rushed for 99, 120 and 82, vaulting himself into the rookie of the year conversation and giving the Packers the workhorse back they’ve been searching for.
Dr. Frankenstein himself would be daunted by the annual task of patching together the Packers defense and shocking it to life. Ted Thompson and Dom Capers may not be Frankensteinian in their mad genius but they’re getting the job done despite losing their three top outside linebackers (Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Mike Neal) and their nickel corner (Casey Hayward). They got some huge assistance last week against the Browns with the emergence of cornerback Davon House, who had three pass break ups and notched his first career interception. How do the Packers keep churning up these quality cornerbacks every year? Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier would really like to know the secret. (Hint: it might be the coaching).
If there’s one Packer villain Viking fans love to hate, it’s that finger-wagging not-exactly-killer-klown B.J. Raji. But when you look at the Packer defensive line this year it’s not Raji you have to fear. The guys playing the best up there are the resurrected Johnny Jolly and, arguably, second-year man Mike Daniels. Datone Jones came in as a first round pick this year but has been set back by injury, allowing the hard-working Daniels to rise up and become a vital cog both in the base defense and sub-packages.
Of course these new Packers, scary as they may become, will never match the terrifying power of the King of All Green-and-Gold Monsters, Aaron Rodgers. Let’s wrap up this series of strained movie metaphors by paying homage to the summer blockbuster Pacific Rim, and hope Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and Kevin Williams can climb inside their Jaegers and take down that horrible football-slinging Kaiju. Or at least pressure him enough to take the onus off our struggling, injury-depleted back end.