Minnesota Vikings (11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (7-7 SU, 7-7 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Saturday, December 23 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Lambeau Field
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN -9/GB +9
Over/Under Total: 40.5
Happy Holidays to all, here is to a strong finish to this NFL bettings season. There are progressively fewer teams playing meaningful games over the last few weeks but one team that is alive and well is the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes head to Green Bay this weekend to tangle with the Packers, who will not be seeing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. We dont really know how Mike McCarthy handles his squad when there is nothing to play for but we do know that Brett Hundley will be the Packers QB as Aaron Rodgers has been shut down for the season. The decision to send Rodgers to the IR came after last weeks loss at Carolina and Green Bay is dealing with several other key injuries heading into Saturday. Eliminated, and beat up, we arent really sure what kind of Packers team will be taking the field.
Minnesota enters as winners in nine of their last ten games and the online betting sites like the Vikings as nine point favorites. Minnesota is 5-2 against the spread as visitors this season and they have won three of the last four against Green Bay both straight up and against the spread. The home team is 10-4 ATS in the last fourteen meetings between these teams but Green Bay is fighting a 1-5 ATS mark in their last six against teams with a winning record. The Sagarin metrics have Minnesota as the 4th ranked team with Green Bay at #16. Those computers are modeling a 24-17 Vikings win.
Minnesota was a winner earlier this year at home against Green Bay. That 23-10 game was where Rodgers suffered the broken collarbone that sent the Packers season out of control. Im sure A-Rod would have loved to dole out a little revenge by spoiling Minnesotas chance at gaining the #1 seed in the NFC but the organization decided there was too much risk and not enough reward to send their MVP quarterback out there for the final two games. Brett Hundley will be pressed back into starting duty and he has not fared well overall but has shown a few moments of bright play. Hundley has oddly seen his worst performances at Lambeau, twice failing to throw for 100 yards and throwing three picks in another game while not yet recording a TD pass at home. The Packers have absolutely no chance if Hundley is below average this weekend as Minnesota brings the 2nd best defense in terms of yards and points, allowing just 17.3 per game.
It is easy to focus on the lack of Rodgers as the biggest factor for Green Bay but their defense is probably more troubling. The Packers are outside the top-20 in all yardage allowed categories and give up 23.8 points per game. The defense is tied for 2nd worst in terms of allowing the opposition to convert of 3rd down and opposing QBs average a 98 rating against Green Bay, the 4th highest allowed. Seven Green Bay defenders are on this weeks injury report and listed as questionable. Four linebackers, including Clay Matthews, are in danger of missing the game as are two corners, including starter Davon House. Every team suffers injuries during the season but Green Bay has not been able to cover their losses, especially as key depth players continue to fall. Minnesota is a top-10 offense in both yards and points and there will be no taking it easy on a division opponent, especially with playoff seeding as a motivator.
Another key injury for Green Bay would be Davante Adams, who is scheduled to miss after a blindside hit against Carolina led to his second concussion of the year. Hundley will still have Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to throw to but neither of those receivers have been able to average over ten yards per catch with Hundley at the helm. Adams was the go-to for both Hundley and Rodgers this season and there really is no replacing him, even with Cobb and Nelson still in there. Geronimo Allison would see more time but he has been inconsistent at best and fumbled away Green Bays chances to win last week in the late going. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have been really solid on the ground as rookies with 850 yards and eight scores between them in just a little over eight weeks of total play. They should be the focus of the Packers offense but they will have to beat the 2nd best run defense of Minnesota that is allowing just 85 yards per game.
Minnesota has been able to run its gameplan for much of this season. Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are both under four yards per carry but the Vikings stick with the run and that has helped them to the 9th best run production on a per game basis. Murray and McKinnon have combined for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns and Minnesotas willingness to stick with the run helps them open up play-action and control the clock. Case Keenum has been rock-solid in throwing for 20 touchdowns against seven interceptions while completing 68% of his passes. Adam Thielen (83/1191/4) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (55/523/8) are the main targets in the pass game and watch for Rudolph to have an impact as Green Bay has allowed four tight end touchdowns over the last four games. The defense is certainly the star in Minnesota and Green Bay will struggle to stay on the field as the Vikings lead the league by allowing just 26.3% conversions on third down.
Green Bay as a nine point home dog is shocking to be honest. That kind of line is usually reserved for the Cleveland Browns of the NFL world. This series has been remarkably close and you have to go back to 2013 to find a bigger spread than what we have for this weekend. I think it is a legit spread however as Green Bay has the look of a dead-in-the-water team. They are without their on-field leader and none of these players know how to deal with getting up for a meaningless game. I think that plays a huge factor and I wouldnt be surprised to see a very tepid Lambeau crowd considering we have already heard the boo-birds come out in previous weeks. Minnesota has all the motivation in the world to put away a flailing Green Bay team and they should do so as there appear to be few answers for the holes in the Green Bay defense. Carolina pretty much walked up and down the field last week and something similar could happen for the Vikings, especially given the Packers offense is not a threat to throw them off their gameplan. It is a lot to lay but I think Minnesota escapes with a 26-13 win.
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