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Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings Prediction: Key NFC North Battle Helps Kick Season Off

It's a rather large NFC North matchup in Week 1 as the Minnesota Vikings host the Green Bay Packers. This is a battle of the two top teams in the division and an opportunity for both to answer early questions. Last year, these two squads didn't meet until much later, and each team won on their home field. The Packers lost 34-31 in Minneapolis in Week 11, but beat the Vikings 37-10 at Lambeau Field in Week 17. Aaron Rodgers had six total touchdown passes in the two contests while Minnesota was forced to start Sean Mannion in the late-season tilt, which is why the Vikings struggled to get anything done offensively.

Related: NFL Predictions for Every Game in Week 1

The Packers put together their third straight 13-win campaign in 2021, but it ended with a 13-10 loss at home to San Francisco in the Divisional Round. The biggest difference in this year's team is that All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams is now in Las Vegas and Rodgers is looking for a new reliable target. Defensively, Green Bay ranked in the top 15 in a lot of categories and added reinforcements to the unit this offseason.

Meanwhile, the Vikings had a disappointing 8-9 season that saw them lose two of their last three down the stretch, including that 37-10 game against the Packers. Kirk Cousins compiled some solid stats (33 TDs, 7 INTs), but the problems came on defense as Minnesota ranked 26th against the run and 28th against the pass. The offense performed well, but not enough to overcome a defense that allowed too many points at times. That's a big reason why Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah fired defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer after eight seasons and hired former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.

Green Bay (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0)

Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 11 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: FOX
Spread: Packers -1.5
Tickets: As low as $159 on SITickets.com

Three Things to Watch

1. Intangibles
This is Week 1 and a big divisional game, so the schedule doesn't really factor in yet, and there shouldn't be issues when it comes to focus. If you want to take a peek ahead, Minnesota heads to Philadelphia for the second half of the Week 2 "Monday Night Football" doubleheader while Green Bay will host Chicago for "Sunday Night Football." Neither Aaron Rodgers nor Kirk Cousins saw reps in the preseason, but they are both seasoned veterans, so it's not as if the early work is necessary. But Rodgers could be more inclined to get off to a slow start because of his reworked receiving corps.