Was it worth suspending Alexander for such important game?

After a narrow but important 33-30 victory over the Carolina Panthers, the Packers hit the road to host the Minnesota Vikings on New Year’s Eve. They will be playing in a hostile environment without star cornerback Jaire Alexander, who was suspended by the Packers organization and not the NFL earlier this week.

Alexander was not on the captain’s list for this game last Sunday, but he stepped up to throw the ball. When the Packers won the toss, Alexander nearly upset the referee by telling him to “defend” instead of “hold.” The Vikings threw for 400 yards and 24 scores in a 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals (24-27). Within 15 weeks. Quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 400 yards and helped score 24 points in Minnesota’s 24-30 loss to the Detroit Lions last weekend.

The Vikings were without rookie Jordan Addison for the entire game and with T.J. Hockenson in the second half. A strong passing game will come against a defense that is already struggling without its best defensive player.The Vikings offense hasn’t been effective running the football this season, so everyone expects them to throw again and Eric Stokes should step in as the primary defensive end. Last week, J. Stokes Chark Jr. had six receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Stokes is Green Bay’s top corner, so he will likely cover Justin Jefferson. That’s why Keysian Nixon and Corey Ballentine added Addison and K.J. Osborne.

Nixon had a huge interception late in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but otherwise didn’t do much defensively. Ballentine is a sixth-round pick out of Washburn, and the Packers seem to be focusing too much on him this offseason. Nixon and Ballentine had big games in Green Bay’s 24-10 loss to the Vikings in Week 8. Nixon has a PFF grade of 57.5 and ranks eighth in receptions allowed. Valentine’s PFF grade is 55.8 and he hasn’t forced a single turnover this season despite giving up just 26 receptions.

Look for Jaren Hall to attack Stokes early, targeting Jefferson, who had 141 receiving yards last week against Detroit, multiple times. Jefferson’s presence also opened up opportunities for Addison and Osborne, who had 111 yards for Cincinnati. The Vikings have lost their last two games, and the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams have passed them in the standings. So Sunday night’s game is a must-win to keep their playoff hopes alive. For the Packers to win this game, they must win a shootout on their final possession.

Minnesota’sdefense has been pretty good under Flores, but not as good as it was under Mike Zimmer, and Jordan Love has been playing his best football in a while. So the Packers will be in a better position to score against Minnesota than Lambeau was in Week 8.The running game is the only advantage the Packers have in this matchup. The offense can attack from multiple angles if healthy with Aaron Jones back. It can happen, but you don’t need love to throw 300 yards.

If the Packers can steal a possession through a successful turnover or special teams trick play, they have a chance to leave the Twin Cities with a win. If Green Bay doesn’t win the turnover battle, Minnesota will. Finally, it hurts not to have Jaire Alexander in this game. Because he’s the only bright spot in the secondary that Justin Jefferson can stop. Without him, it’s a huge problem for the Big G, making the in-house solution even more impressive.

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