Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings Week 1 Game Pick
Green Bay Packers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) v. Minnesota Vikings (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
When: Sunday, Sept 11 at 4:25p
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, MN
Point Spread: GB -2.5/MIN +2.5 (Bet on games at -105 instead of -110 at BAS!)
The NFC North has some of the most historic rivalries in NFL history, and we get another edition in the Packers-Vikings saga to open the 2022 NFL season. Green Bay has largely owned the division in the Aaron Rodgers era, but Minnesota has been the toughest opponent for A-Rod. When Rodgers starts, the Packers are 22-5 against Chicago, 18-6 versus Detroit but only 16-10-1 against Minnesota. These two teams are likely the only contenders for a division title, so this is a juicy matchup considering the winner gets to hold the head-to-head tiebreaker all the way to Week 17. Green Bay’s success may hinge on its ability to replace the production of Davante Adams. His absence gives Minnesota a distinct playmaker advantage, but the sportsbooks are still tabbing Green Bay as the small favorite.
Green Bay has been reliable against division opponents, posting a 5-2 ATS mark in their last seven against North foes, but they did struggle down the stretch to end 2021, going 1-4 against the spread in their last five games overall. Minnesota likes the role of home underdog with 20 ATS wins in their last 28 games when getting points at home. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five between these teams. This is one of the more live lines in the early betting, and the trend has Minnesota potentially angling toward a +1 or even a pick ’em scenario despite Green Bay seeing about 58% of the public money as we enter game week. If you are looking for the Vikings and the points, it could be worth shopping around, and you may have to lock in that bet early. The over has been a good bet for both teams down the stretch last year, and the over has hit in each of the last four GB-Minnesota games. Roughly 65% of the bets have been on the over so far.
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Another Slow Start?
Everyone understands why players like Aaron Rodgers skip the majority of preseason game work, but that can lead to a lack of continuity. Green Bay paid for in the opener last year when they were routed by the Saints. It was clear that the team was not on the same page, and that affected Rodgers, who threw two interceptions. The Packers are 3-1 in their last four Week 1 games, but a closer look reveals a one touchdown performance against the Bears in 2019 and a one-point win against Chicago the year prior. The clear exception to Green Bay’s early scuffles came in 2020 when they faced Minnesota and won 43-34. This year, the offensive question marks are with the receiver group now that Davante Adams is in Las Vegas. Green Bay added Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in the draft while signing Sammy Watkins in free agency. Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard’s return are also in the mix, and it will be critical for one of those guys to step up and become a #1 target for Rodgers. TE Robert Tonyan is back on the field, and the duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are capable receivers as well, but this offense has been the most successful when Rodgers is leveraging an individual like Davante Adams or Jordy Nelson before him. Green Bay becomes a scary betting proposition early if it takes five or six weeks for them to figure out who the ball is going to on a regular basis.
Minnesota had one of the better offenses in 2021, but they were 29th against the run on defense and struggled against the pass as well, leading to some significant changes in the offseason. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and LB Jordan Hicks were brought in to bolster the run-stopping, and the Vikes added former Packer Za’Darius Smith to help Danielle Hunter in the pass rush. Minnesota also wrestled CB Chandon Sullivan away from Green Bay and drafted S Lewis Cine to give the secondary some playmakers alongside Harrison Smith. The new faces may take some time to find a rhythm, but this should be a much improved overall defense. The Vikings offense would largely take a repeat of a 2021 offense that saw Kirk Cousins post a 103.1 passer rating and throw a combined 20 touchdowns to the duo of Justing Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Dalvin Cook was held to 13 rushing yards in the last meeting against Green Bay but has nine career touchdowns in just seven starts against the Packers. With Green Bay’s defensive strength coming in their secondary, it could be Cook who sets the pace for Minnesota this weekend.
Take the Pack in a Close Call
This could be the best game we see this weekend, as both sides have strengths to use against the other. Minnesota has the playmaking advantage with Jefferson and Thielen, but they will draw exceptional corners in Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes with Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos at the safety spots. The game could be decided in these matchups, especially if Minnesota can create downfield opportunities. This game could also hinge on Minnesota’s ability to get heat on Rodgers. Za’Darius Smith played just one game last season but has been one of the best sack men in the game in recent years, and he could go against a Packers O-Line that is without David Bakhtiari, who is still nursing a knee. If Rodgers has time, it is a good bet that he will find open receivers, even if we don’t know who the #1 target will be. Green Bay was the picture of efficiency last year, averaging 26.9 points per game and posting the most equal pass/run split percentage in the league. This team has a variety of ways to hurt you, and they tend to hold a lead with a defense that was top-10 across the board in 2021. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary tied for the team lead with 9.5 sacks to give Green Bay an impressive bookend pass rush to go along with that premier secondary. Minnesota is going to be a force in this division, and their roster additions will push them to a playoff berth, but Green Bay sneaks out of U.S. Bank Stadium with a 26-24 win.
Pick to Cover the Spread: Green Bay. Football is finally here! You may want to brush up with some of Jeff’s NFL Handicapping Tips!