The Minnesota Vikings enter a new era on Sunday under first-year coach Kevin O’Connell.
O’Connell, inheriting an embarrassment of riches on offense, has been tasked with turning around a Vikings team that hasn’t had a winning record over the past two seasons.
The Green Bay Packers have benefited at Minnesota’s expense, winning three consecutive division titles.
However, a former Packers star wide receiver believes the Vikings are primed to knock the Packers from their throne, starting with the season-opening matchup on September 11.
Greg Jenning Says Vikings Do Not Fear Aaron Rodgers
In a segment on The 33rd Team, former Super Bowl-winning Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, who also played two seasons with the Vikings, made a strong case for why Minnesota is ready to overtake Green Bay as the kings of the NFC North division.
“Obviously, Green Bay is the frontrunner,” Jenning said. “If there is one team that I believe is going to take that step this year and, I actually believe that they will win the NFC North, that’s the Minnesota Vikings. This team is prepped, primed and ready to compete against the Green Bay Packers… this team in the purple does not fear Aaron Rodgers and [his] supporting cast.”
Jennings added that the Vikings have fared well over the past two seasons despite the tension in the building and deteriorating defense in Mike Zimmer’s final two years. Particularly, the Vikings beat the Packers 34-31 in Week 11 last season, with Kirk Cousins throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns.
“Now, you look at last year what the Minnesota Vikings were able to do… they not only struggle defensively but there was a little rift between quarterback and head coach,” Jenning said, later detailing the decision-making by the franchise over the past nine months.
” ‘You know what let’s make our head coach an offensive guy. Let’s solidify the defense. Let’s bring in another guy, Za’Darius Smith. You bring him in to be a bookend with what you already have as an edge rusher in Danielle Hunter,’ ” Jennings said.
He added that while the Vikings have a young secondary, improvements in the pass rush should help Minnesota’s younger defensive players develop over the season.
“Get pressure on the quarterback. You give that young secondary time or less time to have to cover. That’s where I feel like they take a step and they actually dethrone the Green Bay Packers this year,” Jennings said.
Vikings Underdogs to Packers to Start 2022 NFL Season
The Vikings and Packers kickoff at 3:25 p.m. CT in “America’s Game of the Week” on Fox Sports on Sunday, September 11.
Since Packers coach Matt LaFleur took over in 2019, he is 2-1 at U.S. Bank Stadium. O’Connell makes his coaching debut at home in what is likely to host one of the most raucous crowds over the past two seasons after COVID-19 protocols limited capacity for Vikings fans.
Minnesota is a 1.5-point underdog to the three-time defending NFC North champions in Green Bay, according to Tipico Sportsbook.