The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings both are 7-8 as they head into their Week 17 matchup on Sunday night. Each team’s postseason chances depend on winning this game, with the loser getting all-but eliminated. The winner will have over a 90% chance of earning a wild card spot if they also go onto win their Week 18 contest.
For their part, the Vikings will be trotting out their two best wide receivers to support 2023 fifth round pick Jaren Hall at quarterback. Despite previous reports that rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison may not play due to a sprained ankle, overnight developments state that he will suit up alongside star wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Meanwhile, the Packers will be without their top two cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes.
In addition to their preferred starting cornerbacks, the Packers will also be without linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and wide receiver Christian Watson. Furthermore, rookie wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks will be a gametime decision due to a chest injury he suffered against the Carolina Panthers last week.
With so many crucial contributors down, it will be vital for other playmakers to step up. If Green Bay is going to win in Minnesota on Sunday night, these five players will have to play a big role.
1. Jordan Love Has to Be Better Than His First Game vs the Minnesota Vikings
In the Packers’ first game against the Vikings this season, Jordan Love completed 24 of 41 passes for 229 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Green Bay lost 24-10. Simply put, Love has to be better in Week 17 than he was in Week Eight.
The good news is that he has been. Since losing to the Vikings, their fourth-straight loss at the time, the Packers are 5-3. In those eight games, Love has a 66.4% completion percentage, has thrown for 2,095 yards, 16 touchdowns, and three interceptions, and has a passer rating of 103.2.
On the season, Love has a 62.5% completion percentage, has thrown for 3,587 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, and has a passer rating of 91.8. Green Bay will need him to continue his improved play and decision making if they have any chance to beat the Vikings on Sunday night.
2. Wide Receiver Jayden Reed Could Etch His Name in Green Bay Packers Record Books
Jayden Reed had four catches for 83 yards in the Packers’ loss to the Vikings in Week Eight. His 83 receiving yards in that game are the second-most he has had in a game this season/his career, just one yard shy of the 84 receiving yards he put up in Green Bay’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After missing the Packers’ win over Carolina last week, Reed is off of the injury report and will certainly be playing on Sunday night. He needs just one more reception to tie Sterling Sharpe’s franchise record for most receptions by a rookie, and two more to break it.
In his last game, the Packers’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Reed had six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. On the season, Reed has 54 receptions for 592 yards and six touchdowns.
3. Feed Aaron Jones and Prosper
Running back Aaron Jones, like many players on this team, has battled injuries all season long. After spraining his MCL and missing three games in the latter part of the season, Jones returned against the Panthers to produce the Packers’ first 100+ yard game by a running back or wide receiver this season. He had 21 carries for 127 yards in the 33-30 win.
With the Packers down Watson, Wicks, and Luke Musgrave, having a healthy Aaron Jones is paramount to Green Bay’s success. Just as important, though, is Matt LaFleur giving Jones the number of carries he needs to make the team successful. While Jones has missed significant time this season, the Packers are 2-0 when he has at least 20 carries.
According to StatMuse, Jones has gotten 20+ carries in a game just eight times since 2019. The Packers are 7-1 in those games.
4. Preston Smith Is the Green Bay Packers’ Highest-Graded Run Defender
Preston Smith is currently second on the Packers with 7.0 sacks this season. Indeed, his pass rushing abilities will be important against rookie quarterback Jaren Hall on Sunday night. However, Smith also will have to continue his relatively solid play against the run.
According to PFF, Smith is the third-highest graded run defender on the team this year with a grade of 74.2. Of the top eight highest-graded run defenders on the Packers this season, five of them will not be playing on Sunday night:
- Eric Stokes- injured reserve
- Darnell Savage- injured (though listed as questionable)
- Justin Hollins- released
- Rasul Douglas- traded
- De’Vondre Campbell- injured
The Vikings are one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL this season. In Week Eight, despite the loss, the Packers did hold them to just 61 rushing yards as a team. Smith will need to play a big role in keeping Hall from scrambling for big gains and keeping the running backs from bursting for long runs.
5. Carrington Valentine Has to Prove He Belongs
When the 2023 season started, very few expected 2023 seventh round draft pick Carrington Valentine to play many snaps much less start most of the Packers’ games. But here they are in Week 17 and Valentine has started 10 games while playing 59% of the defense’s snaps.
While he has not lit the world on fire as a defensive back, he has been a whole lot better than might have been expected. Valentine is allowing just 57.1% of passes thrown his way to be completed and has given up just one touchdown. Opposing quarterbacks have a 86.0 passer rating when targeting him.
In this must-win matchup against Minnesota, Valentine will be tasked with covering one of Justin Jefferson or Jordan Addison. Neither is an easy matchup, but Valentine has taken on tough assignments already this year in Keenan Allen and Amon Ra St. Brown. His ability to limit these wide receivers could effectively shut down the Vikings’ offense given their inability to run the ball.
Gear up for the crucial Week 17 showdown with our in-depth analysis in Green Bay Packers News. Discover key insights on the Packers’ strategy against the Minnesota Vikings, spotlighting players like Jordan Love and Preston Smith.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Jaren Hall does have children. He and his wife Breanna McCarter Hall, a former soccer player for Utah Valley, welcomed their daughter Jayda in 2021. The Hall family's expansion adds to Jaren's notable persona both on and off the football field.
Jaren Hall is currently in his redshirt junior year at Brigham Young University (BYU) for the 2022 college football season. He first enrolled at BYU in 2016, and with eligibility extensions, his collegiate athlete status is as of the latest season.
Jaren Hall's salary details are not publicly disclosed as he is a college athlete at Brigham Young University and NCAA rules prohibit direct payment of salaries to college athletes. However, with NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) rules, he may earn through endorsements. For professional insights, one must await his potential NFL draft and subsequent contract.