Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Pick

Green Bay Packers (4-4) +2.5 at Minnesota Vikings (4-4) -2.5, 45.5 o/u Sunday November 9, 2008 1 pm ET The Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN FOX

by Matt of

One of the NFLs better rivalry games takes place this Sunday when the Green Bay Packers travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams come in at 4-4, sitting one game behind the Chicago Bears in the NFC North, with Green Bay holding the tiebreaker at this point with their week one victory against the Vikings in Green Bay. Neither team has been able to put together a winning streak of more than two games, but both hold hopes for a playoff bid with a strong finish to the season. The game from the Metrodome kicks at noon local time and can be seen on FOX.

Green Bay is typically +115 or +120 on the money line with the Vikings in the -135 or -140 range with 45.5 a common over/under total.

Green Bay is coming in to this week after nearly knocking off the undefeated Tennessee Titans, dropping a 19-16 overtime decision. The Packers looked strong coming into week 9 after a win at Seattle and a convincing victory against the Colts. A win this week will not only keep pressure on the division leading Bears, but push the Vikings essentially two games back factoring the tiebreakers. The Packers are 2-2 away from Lambeau and have amassed a 5-3 against the spread record to go alongside the 4-4 overall mark. The Pack is rolling in the division, going 5-1 against the spread in the last six against the NFC North.

After losing the first two games of the season, the Vikings handed over the reigns to Gus Frerotte and have been a much more consistent offensive unit, going 4-2 since the switch. The Vikes came out on the wrong side of a shootout against the Bears in week seven, but came back with a 28-21 win against the Texans in week nine, following their bye. Minnesota is 3-1 in the Metrodome and has put together a 2-2 against the spread record at home with a 3-5 overall ATS mark. Unlike the Packers, the Vikings have struggled in the North, going zero for the last four against the spread in division matches.

The Packers offense in 08 has looked similar to the 07 version, with a strong passing attack and a below average rush game, albeit under Aaron Rodgers instead of Brett Favre. The Pack is 9th in the NFL in passing yardage per game at 235 yards, but gains just 101 on the ground, good for 21st. Green Bay has been efficient in crossing the goal line, averaging a 7th best, 26.2 points per game. The Green Bay defense is a mirror to the offense, excelling at stopping the pass, but giving up big yards to the rush. The Packers are 5th in pass yards allowed at 183 on average while allowing a 5th worst, 146 yards on the ground per contest.

Aaron Rodgers hasn’t erased #4 from the fans minds, but has performed well, compiling a 95.3 QB rating while throwing for nearly 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. Ryan Grant is still looking to get on track behind an under performing offensive line, but leads the team with 550 rushing yards and has found the end zone once. Greg Jennings is the unquestioned playmaker on this team, hauling in 40 passes for 764 to this point, 4 for TDs. Donald Driver draws single coverage most of the time and is the safety blanket for Rodgers, catching 36 balls for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nick Barnett leads the defense with 36 tackles and is a strong complement to speedy A.J. Hawk at the linebacker spots. Chares Woodson is having a Pro Bowl type season with 4 interception, 12 passes defended and 2 defensive scores.

The Vikings are a contrast in styles to the Packers on offense, possessing a strong run game and deploying a controlled passing game. The Minnesota ground game is 6th in the league at 134 yards per game but is merely average through the air at 207 yards on average. The Vikes have a tendency to let drives stall, but still check in at 14th for points scored at 22.8 per game. Minnesotas defense is among the best when it comes to stopping the run, ranking second in the league, allowing just 69 yards on average. Opposing offenses have had to pass as a result, and the Vikings will give up yards through the air, currently surrendering 232 per game.

Gus Frerotte is charged with the game management for Minnesota and the veteran has done that, hitting on 57% of his throws for 1,468 yards with 8 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Adrian Peterson is workhorse for the Vikings, rushing for 823 yards and 6 scores in 08, even with teams committing extra help in the box to stop him. Bernard Berrian has provided the deep threat the Vikings were looking for, he is averaging 20.7 yards on his 30 receptions with four scores. Bobby Wade and TE Visanthe Shiancoe are Frerottes possession guys, combining for 611 yards and 4 touchdowns. Chad Greenway and Cedric Griffin share the lead in tackles with 43 and free agent signing, Jared Allen shares the team lead in sacks with Kevin Williams at 7 a piece.

The injury reports for both teams are pretty clean with Jared Allen a notable presence for Minnesota, listed as questionable with a shoulder sprain.

My Pick: This series often provides great games and this week should be no exception, with both teams possessing offensive facets that have given the opposition troubles during the season. Minnesota will surely be able to run and Green Bay should spread the ball out through the air without much issue, so this one could come down to who has the ball last. It may not be a shootout by any means, but this one stays close throughout with the gritty Pack finding a way to get it done on the road.