Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers Preview and Pick – Week 1 NFL Picks

Minnesota Vikings (0-0) +3, 38.5 O/U at Green Bay Packers (0-0) -3,
38.5 O/U, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin, 7 PM Eastern, Monday

by Badger of Predictem.com

With the legend now throwing passes in the Big Apple for the Jets, the Green Bay Packers open up the Aaron Rodgers era at quarterback on the national stage as they host their NFC North rival Minnesota
Vikings on ESPNs Monday Night Football.

After an emotional and turbulent offseason that turned into a soap opera when Brett Favre waffled on his decision to retire, the Packers and Rodgers are eager to get 2008 started as they try to duplicate
last years 13-3 season (12-3-1 ATS) and appearance in the NFC
Championship game.

But the task will not be easy as the Vikings are perhaps the NFLs most improved team. They added the NFLs best sack artist by trading
for end Jared Allen before the draft, and the offense still sports
one of the games most exciting running backs in Adrian Peterson. If
quarterback Tarvaris Jackson can take the next step in his
progression, the Vikings will no doubt improve upon their 8-8 record
(7-7-2 ATS) in 2007 and become a major player in the NFC.

Oddsmakers opened the game with the home team Packers as standard 3- point favorites, but that number has dropped to 2.5-points at a lot of sportsbooks already with the early money going on the Packers.
Some offshore sportsbooks have even dropped the number to 2-point
favorites (namely 5Dimes.com). The over/under total opened at 38.5
and is holding steady. The early moneyline numbers have the Packers
listed as -134 favorites, with the Vikings as +124 underdogs.

Offensively this game figures to be all about the young quarterbacks Rodgers and Jackson.

Rodgers is making his first career start for the Packers and will be
faced with the task of playing with the 300-pound gorilla of living
up the expectations of Favre on his back all season long. He had an
up-n-down preseason and nobody really knows how the product out of
Cals QB-friendly program will do under the national spotlight.

Jackson tweaked his knee during the preseason and has yet to really
gel with his new receiving core, namely new deep threat Bernard
Berrian who has also been nursing injuries during the preseason.
Plus, left tackle Bryant McKinnie is suspended for the first four
games of the season so Jackson wont have his backside protector
available until October.

Everyone knows what Peterson did as a Viking rookie last season (1,341 yds. , 12 TD), unless youve been holed up in a cave with
Osama Bin Laden. On the other sideline, Packers breakout sensation at
running back Ryan Grant (956 yds., 8 TD) missed the entire preseason
with bum hamstrings so he will still be working himself into playing
shape during the season.

Defensively these two teams will be tough to move the chains on.

Minnesota featured the games best run defense in 07 thanks to the
Williams duo (Pat and Kevin) in the middle, and with the addition of
Allen as a pass rusher off the edge the Vikings hope to shore up
their weakness from last season pass defense. Although they will
likely have to do it without one of their other offseason
acquisitions, safety Madieu Williams, who is out indefinitely with
neck issues.

The Packers are also banged up on defense, as three starters and key contributors (CB Charles Woodson, DT Ryan Pickett and LB A.J. Hawk)
have been absent for most of the preseason will a variety of
injuries. All three are likely to play (make sure to check the injury
report later in the week), but how effective they are remains to be

The betting trends in this contest favor the road team in recent
history. Not only has the road team gone 10-2 ATS in their last 12
head-to-head meetings, but the underdog (typically the road team) is
also a strong 16-5 ATS in their last 21 head-to-head meetings.

Green Bay has gotten the better of the Vikings lately though. Not
only have the Packers won four straight versus the Vikings straight
up, but they covered both games versus the Vikings in 07 and have
covered the number in three of those four games.

If you are looking for solid trends when it comes to betting on the
total, youre in for disappointment. The over/under trends are all
over the map and are severely conflicting, as the Vikings have come
in under the total in six of their last nine on the road (and 15 of
their last 22 on grass), but the Packers have come in over the number
in eight straight versus an NFC team and the over is 14-3 in their
last 17 games overall.

Badgers Pick: I expect both teams to attack the other teams weakness on defense. The Packers will do it through the air, while
the Vikings will feed Peterson the ball and do it on the ground. In
the end though I think opening night jitters and injuries along the
offensive lines of both teams will make this a less than spectacular
game to watch offensively. The total of 38.5 is dangerously low, but
I still think this game ends up under the number. Take the under of