Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Saturday, December 23, 2017, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Lambeau Field – Green Bay, Wisconsin
Opening Line: Minnesota -10 (+110)
Current Line: Minnesota -9 (-105)
Opening Total: 40 1/2
Current Total: 41
Opening Money Line: Vikings -460 / Packers +360
Current Money Line: Vikings -400 / Packers +320
The 11-3 Minnesota Vikings travel to the arch-rival Green Bay Packers Saturday night. The Packers are 7-7. Minnesota has already clinched the NFC North title, and is a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for the best record in the NFC. The Vikings hold a one game lead over a trio of 10-4 leads for the #2 seed and a first round bye. For the Packers, they were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week. Green Bay will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They will be in the unfamiliar position of playing spoiler as they play NFC playoff contenders the Vikings and Lions in the next two weeks.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned last week from a broken collarbone suffered in mid-October in the first game against the Vikings in Minnesota. The Packers faint playoff hopes were dashed with a 31-24 loss at the Carolina Panthers. It was clear Rodgers wasn’t 100% as he threw a very uncharacteristic three interceptions along with three touchdowns. After the Packers were officially eliminated by the Atlanta Falcons winning at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday night, Green Bay decided to sit Rodgers for the remaining two games.
Green Bay leads the series 60-52-2 against Minnesota. The Vikings have won three of the last four games against the Packers including 23-10 in Minnesota October 15. This series dates back to 1961.
Minnesota is coached by Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have been one of the biggest surprises in football this year. Minnesota has road losses at the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-9 and Carolina Panthers 31-24, plus a home loss to the Detroit Lions 14-7. The Vikings have home wins over the New Orleans Saints 29-19, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-17, Packers 23-10, Baltimore Ravens 24-16, Los Angeles Rams 24-7, and Cincinnati Bengals 34-7 last week. Minnesota has a neutral site win over the Cleveland Browns 33-16 in London, plus road wins at the Chicago Bears 20-17, Washington Redskins 38-30, Lions 30-23 and Atlanta Falcons 14-9. The Vikings have won nine of their last ten games. Minnesota was a 12.5 point favorite against Cincinnati and the total was 42.5. The Vikings are 10-4 ATS and the total is 7-7 this season.
Green Bay is coached by Mike McCarthy. The Packers have home wins over the Seattle Seahawks 17-9, the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 in overtime, Chicago Bears 35-14 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-20 in overtime, plus road wins at the Dallas Cowboys 35-31, Bears 23-16 and Cleveland Browns 27-21 in overtime. The Packers have road losses at the Atlanta Falcons 34-23, Minnesota Vikings 23-10, Pittsburgh Steelers 31-28 and Panthers 31-24 last week, plus home losses to the New Orleans Saints 26-17, Detroit Lions 30-17 and Baltimore Ravens 23-0. Against Carolina, Green Bay was a 3 point underdog and the total was 46.5. The Packers are 7-7 ATS and the total is 10-4 this season.
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Minnesota is outscoring teams 25-17. The Vikings are #2 in points allowed and #10 in scoring. Minnesota is averaging 368 yards per game on offense including 246 passing and 121 rushing yards. The Vikings are in the top ten in all three categories. Minnesota allows 284 yards per game on defense including 199 passing and 85 rushing yards. The Vikings are in the top three in all three categories. Minnesota is 86/195 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 55/192. Minnesota has forced 35 sacks and allowed 22 this season. The Vikings are +3 in turnovers.
Quarterback Case Keenum has completed 67.9% of his passes for 3,219 yards with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and rushed for 162 yards on 33 carries with a touchdown. He has been sacked 17 times. He is starting in place of Sam Bradford who has missed all but two games with a knee injury. Bradford has completed 74.4% of his passes for 382 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Bradford is out for the season. Teddy Bridgewater received a thunderous ovation when he came in at the end of the blowout win against the Bengals last week suffering a horrific knee injury before last season started. He was 0/2 with an interception, but that is not the point. He will be the back-up.
Running back Latavius Murray has 175 carries for 662 yards with 6 touchdowns, plus 13 catches for 94 yards. Jerick McKinnon has 131 carries for 484 yards with 3 touchdowns, plus 50 catches for 412 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook is out indefinitely with a torn ACL suffered last week. He had 74 carries for 354 yards and four touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 90 yards. Bishop Sankey is also out for the season with a knee injury.
Receiver Adam Thielen has 83 catches for 1,191 yards and 4 touchdowns. Stefon Diggs has 53 catches for 724 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has 55 catches for 523 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Jarius Wright has 17 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns. He is probable with a foot injury. LaQuon Treadwell has 17 catches for 184 yards. Five defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
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Green Bay is being outscored 24-22 this year. The Packers average 314 yards per game on offense including 206 passing and 108 rushing yards. On defense, Green Bay allows 356 total yards per game including 240 passing and 116 rushing yards per game. The Packers are #26 in total defense and #24 in pass defense. Green Bay is 89/204 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 89/191. The Packers have forced 32 sacks and allowed 46 this season. Green Bay is +3 in turnovers and has both scored and allowed two defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has completed 64.7% of his passes for 1,675 yards with 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 24 carries for 126 yards. Rodgers was sacked 22 times in seven games. Brett Hundley is Rodgers’ replacement. He has completed 63.9% of his passes for 1,534 yards with 8 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and has 28 carries for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has been sacked 24 times.
Running back Aaron Jones has 78 carries for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 9 catches. Jamaal Williams has 116 carries for 416 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 22 catches for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery has 71 carries for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 23 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown. He is out for the season with a wrist injury.
Receiver Davante Adams has 74 catches for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is out with a concussion. Randall Cobb has 58 catches for 586 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 19 rushing yards. Jordy Nelson has 50 catches for 471 yards and 6 touchdowns. Geronimo Allison has 20 catches for 229 yards. Tight end Lance Kendricks has 14 catches for 167 and a touchdown. Richard Rodgers has 12 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. Twelve defensive players and four offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
The under is 5-1 in this series recently overall, but seven of the last ten games in Green Bay in the series have gone over. The home team is 10-4 ATS in this series, but the underdog is 5-1 ATS. The Packers are 6-2 ATS against the Vikings at home recently.
Minnesota has a very good shot of becoming the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium as U.S. Bank Stadium will host Super Bowl LII in February. But first things first. Minnesota needs to win these last two games to secure a first round bye and maybe the #1 seed. They do hold the tiebreaker over the Rams and Saint with head to head victory, but would lose the tiebreaker to the Panthers. For Green Bay, the problems are with a porous defense and a terrible offensive line that can’t protect Rodgers or Hundley. I like Minnesota to win but it will be closer than the spread would indicate.