Minnesota Vikings (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (2-2 SU, 1-2-1 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date and Time: Thursday, October 2, 8:25pm ET
Where: Lambeau Field
TV: NFL Network
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN +10/GB -10
Over/Under Total: 50
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With the NFL just passing the quarter pole for the season, very few teams have established themselves as known commodities. Every team that has played four games has a loss already and only Oakland and Jacksonville remain winless. Everyone else is trying to settle out whether they are contender or pretender and get some momentum heading into the middle of the schedule. Two 2-2 teams square off this Thursday night at Lambeau Field as the Green Bay Packers face the Minnesota Vikings in what could be a very important NFC North contest. This will mark the 108th meeting between these rivals and both squads come in riding high off wins in Week 4. This rivalry might be ratcheted down from a few years back when Brett Favre suited up in purple but there wonít be many pleasantries exchanged before this one.
Early betting can be hit or miss depending on what you are looking for but the online betting sites have tabbed the Packers as 10 point favorites in opening lines. There are some options out there like the 9.5 point line at Bookmaker and 5Dimes has Minnesota at +10.5 so look around a bit. The over/under total for the game is at 50.
The Teddy Bridgewater era began last week with an exciting 41-28 win over Atlanta. The Falcons donít have a stout defense but Bridgewater looked the part in throwing for 317 yards while adding 27 yards on the ground, including a touchdown. Bridgewater did exit the game and is questionable for Thursday with an ankle sprain. The short week obviously works against the Vikings here and former starter Christian Ponder is next in line if Teddy canít go. Ponder has experience and is familiar with the Packers, so maybe Minnesota doesnít lose too much if Bridgewater is out but not many teams can be expected to win with their third string signal caller on the road.
The Packers diffused Wisconsinís collective panic mode last week with a 38-17 win over the Bears as Aaron Rodgers played his best game of the year and the defense made enough plays to stay ahead of Chicago. Rodgers threw for 302 yards and hit on four touchdown throws, two each to Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Green Bay has owned this series, going 7-1-1 against the Vikes since 2010 but this might be the most incomplete version of the Packers in quite a while so they canít just sleepwalk their way through this one.
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We know about the very bad off-field situation in the Minnesota backfield but Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon have played well as they have been pressed into action. McKinnon rushed for 135 yards last week and Asiata added three rushing touchdowns against the Falcons. That duo now gets to go against the worst run defense in the league as the Packers have given up 175 yards on the ground per game. A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are all talented but teams have chosen to run right at them and have done so with success across the board. Bridgewater or Ponder will need another solid rushing output to control the clock and set up any play action. The Packers also have struggled to defend the pass in between the numbers so look for Cordarelle Patterson to get the ball around the linebacker level to take advantage of an easy throw and potentially rack up those RAC yards.
It is pretty clear at this point that Green Bay is simply not a running team. That isnít news to most people, or even bad news when you have Rodgers at the helm but they are becoming increasingly one-dimensional. Eddie Lacy did find the endzone against the Bears but only managed 48 yards on 17 carries against what was supposed to be a soft Chicago run defense. Lacy has averaged just 3.0 yards per carry through four weeks and he will continue to see limited chances if the Packers keep running the no-huddle and throwing it out of three wide receiver looks. Green Bay does need another target to emerge in the passing game as Cobb and Nelson have accounted for eight of the nine receiving touchdowns but I doubt there will be much emphasis put on that during the short week. When in doubt, stick with your playmakers and it appears that Packers have just three at this point.
The last time these teams took the field, it resulted in a 26-26 tie. There is very little that has remained the same from that point last season but both teams appear in better shape than when that game was played and this one could be close again. The Vikings are going to everything in their power to feature the run, something that often works well on Thursday nights, and keep Rodgers off the field. The Bridgewater injury is a key as Minnesota is less dynamic with him on the bench but that run first focus will be there regardless of who suits up at quarterback. Ultimately, Rodgers should see success again as he is the best player on the field and Minnesotaís defense is solid but pretty unspectacular. Short weeks often produce some quirky gameflows and I think this one stays close for longer than most people think but there is too much offensive firepower on Green Bayís side for the Vikings to pull and upset here. The Packers should pull away early in the fourth quarter with the usual suspects having their way like they did last week. Green Bay 30 Minnesota 17
Evergreen's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay
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