Shawn (8-5, 5-7-1 ATS): First of all, Merry Christmas!
Hey, look who has made a comeback? Not the Green Bay Packers, ME.
Hopefully the Packers and I will keep it rolling right into the playoffs. As Rod Tidwell once said, “Me and my agent should be one.” And as Jerry Maguire once said, “I am taking my one client, and we are going… all the way.”
The Minnesota Vikings continue to be the rabbits of the NFL. No other team does it better. It seems like every other year they get off to fast starts, only to inevitably fall apart by the end. Pretty much the only seasons they don’t do that is when they just suck from the beginning. The Detroit Lions think the Vikings choke in the second half of seasons.
It should be telling for both the Packers and the Vikings that Sam Bradford’s aerial display against the Packers in week 2 was as good as it ever got for Bradford and that unit. As it turns out, not having played a game yet with the Vikings was to Bradford’s ADVANTAGE. Once defenses started to realize what he was doing, they started shutting him down.
Of course, it hasn’t been all Bradford’s fault. The beginning of the end happened when the Vikings started suffering injuries on their offensive line, which wasn’t too great to begin with. Then, an injury to Harrison Smith put a hole in the Vikings’ defense. One of the best units in the league with Smith on the field, the Vikings are never as good on defense without him.
The twin good news for the Vikings is that Smith will be back this week and Bradford isn’t the only quarterback to have his best game of the season against the Packers’ secondary. Those two things suggest the Vikings should be good on defense again, while the Packers’ secondary just isn’t very good.
The bad news for the Vikings is that the Packers are a better team than the one they narrowly beat in week 2. Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Jared Cook and Aaron Rodgers have the passing game playing at a much higher level. In week 2, the Vikings could lock defenders on those guys one-on-one and pretty much not worry about it. I would like to see them try that this time around.
And I think they likely will. They will because Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael have given the Packers a running game that defenses have to worry about. Even when the Vikings were a top unit on defense, I always thought that the run was their weakness. They aren’t the kind of defense that can just line up their nickel and let the middle six stop the run. They need to keep their safeties involved. With that being the case, there should be a lot of single coverage on the outside.
I think the Vikings can roll with Xavier Rhodes, who didn’t play in the first matchup, covering Adams and be confident there. However, if they leave Terence Newman on Jordy Nelson, as they did in week 2, I think they are looking at a long day.
The Packers are as healthy as they’ve been in weeks. Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews were full participants in practice for the first time in nearly a month. Even Nick Perry is expected to be back. Of course, I said that about the defense last week, and that didn’t stop the Bears from lighting the Packers up. Still, I expect to see a better game from the defense.
Lastly, the weather should be a non-issue. The Packers will likely be relieved to play a game in the 30s after freezing cold games the last two weeks.
I can easily see the Packers winning and not covering a very generous 6-7 point spread. However, though the Vikings may have some sporadic success on defense, I think the Packers’ offense wins the matchup this time. They are a balanced unit, and a balanced offense is tough for even a very good defense to stop. Again, the defense will do enough.
Packers 27, Vikings 17
Monty (8-6, 4-8-2 ATS): We’ve both had problems figuring out what the Green Bay Packers are going to do from week to week this season and even more so when it comes to picking against the spread.
This week, however, I feel pretty confident in saying the Packers are going to win and they’re going to cover, even at seven points.
Everyone not named Damarious Randall is playing some inspired football right now for the Green Bay Packers. That P.O.S. seems like he could single-handedly torpedo the season, but let’s go ahead and assume that he cannot possibly play as poorly as he did last week against Chicago.
Although it’s fair to say the Packers’ offense is much improved from the last time these two teams met, it’s also fair to say their defense is worse. And it’s largely because of the secondary.
On the other side, the Vikings have lost seven of nine after their 5-0 start to sit at 7-7. Their playoff chances are on life support and they are obviously trending in the opposite direction as the Packers.
This is incredibly amusing to me because, when the Vikings made their big trade for Sam Bradford, I repeatedly said they would still finish 8-8. It looks like that’s exactly what they’ll do.
That said, you have to wonder about the Vikings team showing up today. They just got embarrassed by the Indianapolis Colts at home. A game like that is usually a wake-up call or a clear sign of the end of the line.
The Packers better hope it isn’t the former.
While we know the Vikings’ offense has gotten worse since week 2 — they cannot run the football or protect the quarterback — their defense may also have gotten worse. The Colts did just put up 34 points on them.
I don’t expect the Packers to do the same. Harrison Smith’s return will be big.
I do, however, expect the Packers to do enough on both sides of the ball. The pass rush will return for the simple fact that the Vikings’ line is awful. That should be enough for Randall not to get completely exposed again.
I don’t really care who the Packers’ offense is facing right now. I’m confident they’ll put up points.
They’ve recently faced the league’s No. 1 defense (Houston) and the No. 8 defense (Chicago). The offense did enough to win those games. I don’t expect they’ll be too intimidated by the league’s third-ranked defense.
The only way I see the Vikings hanging around is if they score on special teams, where they’re very dangerous. Special teams play may actually be the key to this game.
I don’t think the Packers will be that stupid to ignore special teams on this particular day.
Packers 27, Vikings 10