1) Is Aaron Jones for real?
Yes, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some bumps in the road – and one could be today vs. the Vikings’ formidable front seven. But Jones ain’t Samson Gado or even Ty Montgomery. He’s an extremely talented running back who would’ve been drafted a lot earlier than the fifth round had he run a better 40 at the NFL Combine in early March. The former UTEP star deserves to get at least 12 to 15 carries a game from here on out. Will he? That remains a legitimate question. Remember, it took injuries to Montgomery and far less talented rookie Jamaal Williams to even get Jones on the field in week 4 against the Chicago Bears.
2) How much will the defense miss corner Kevin King and safety Morgan Burnett?
Plenty, but not as much as the Vikings will miss their starting quarterback, their best running back and their best receiver. Without Sam Bradford, Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs, this is an offense that the Packers’ defense should be able to keep under 20 points – even without King and Burnett on the field and even with Dom Capers taking naps in the press box. The “D” will also be without backups Joe Thomas and Ahmad Brooks, but there can be no excuses when going up against an offense missing its top 3 players.
3) Does Lane Taylor have a chance at left tackle against Everson Griffen?
Not without a lot of help. As I predicted prior to last week’s game in Dallas, Taylor wasn’t nearly as effective on a fast track – and that was against pedestrian defensive end Tyrone Crawford. If David Bakhtiari sits out yet another game, Taylor would have to face a much better opponent on another turf field. Griffen is a stud who gives even the best left tackles trouble. There’s no telling what kind of damage he could do against a slow-footed career guard. It’s up to Mike McCarthy to not let that happen. He must give Taylor help on a consistent basis – even if it means sacrificing one potential target in the passing game.
4) Is Mason Crosby a little spoiled?
I would never call a grown man a baby, but I was half expecting Crosby to have a pacifier in his mouth after halftime of last week’s game. Some kickers have to deal with a new long snapper and/or a new holder every season. Up until 2016, the former Colorado star had one long snapper and four holders in a decade. That’s incredible stability. He’s being paid $4M a year to make kicks even when the mechanics aren’t perfect. There was nothing wrong with Taybor Pepper’s snaps or Justin Vogel’s hold on the first missed PAT vs. Dallas. The second hold was definitely shaky, but it wasn’t terrible. Crosby has been spoiled over the years by Brett Goode, Jon Ryan and Tim Masthay. He needs to put on his big boy pants and get the job done even when the velocity of the snap and the spin of the laces aren’t up to his exact specifications.
The pick – I felt good taking the Vikings before finding out about Bradford and Diggs. I’d feel better taking the Packers if I knew Bakhtiari was playing. So who am I picking to win? When all else fails, keep it simple – Aaron Rodgers over Case Keenum. GREEN BAY 23-19. (Season record: 3-2)