I hope you enjoyed the exciting previous two weeks of “Monday Night Football” – Chiefs-Chargers and Bears-Eagles both going down to the final minute – because we are back to what on the surface looks like another dog game, this between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.
I mean, of course, no offense to Green Bay, which looks as good offensively as any team in a long time and has a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who right now would finish with the NFL single-season record in passer rating (129.1) by a whopping eight points over Peyton Manning’s previous mark.
Rodgers is a lock for NFL MVP and hasn’t stopped putting up ridiculous numbers since returning from a concussion in a must-win in Week 16 last season vs. the New York Giants and throwing for 404 yards and four touchdowns. It’s like the concussion turned him into a superhero.
Oh, and the Pack haven’t lost a game since Rodgers returned. He has thrown for 38 touchdowns and six interceptions in the 14-game winning streak. This season he has completed 72.5 percent of his passes and produced a passer rating of at least 110 in each game, an NFL record. Yeah, that’s not too bad.
Vikings at Packers Betting Storylines
The Vikings come in off their bye week, while Green Bay won a shootout in San Diego last week, 45-38, behind four Rodgers TD passes (against only five incompletions!) and two Philip Rivers interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Again, if there’s one flaw on Green Bay it’s the No. 31 pass defense, which was shredded for 375 yards passing and four TDs. But the Pack have now gone six consecutive games with at least two interceptions. And in terms of opponent’s QB passer rating, Green Bay is actually rated well.
These two played back on Oct. 23 at the Metrodome and it was much closer than expected as the Vikes lost only 33-27 in rookie QB Christian Ponder’s first NFL start (the Pack were -10 with total at 47).
Ponder was only 13-for-32 for with two picks but kept the Vikes in the game, throwing for 219 yards and two scores. Adrian Peterson was big for the Vikes, rushing for 175 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers was a typical 24-for-30 for 335 yards and three scores -- and according to STATS, only one of those incompletions was technically off target: two were thrown away, two dropped and one spiked.
But Minnesota has looked better under Ponder, following that loss with a 24-21 win at Carolina. He was 18-for-28 for 236 yards, one TD and no picks vs. the Panthers. And one would think Peterson would have a tougher time with a rookie QB in there, but he had another good game with 162 total yards and two touchdowns.
Minnesota will get back starting cornerback Antoine Winfield from a neck injury that caused him to miss four games. He’s the team’s best cornerback and will only help the NFL’s No. 30 pass defense.
Minnesota allowed an average of 281 passing yards and eight total TD passes in the four games Winfield missed. But fellow cornerback Chris Cook remains unavailable after his felony assault charge.
Vikings right guard Anthony Herrera likely misses another game after tearing a ligament in the first game against Green Bay.
The bye really helped Vikings top WR Percy Harvin. He sat out the second half vs. Green Bay last time because of a rib injury that has bothered him all year.
By the way, road teams are just 3-7 on MNF this year. The Bears’ upset in Philly this past Monday snapped a seven-game skid by road teams on Monday night dating back to Week 1 when New England won at Miami and Oakland won in Denver.
Vikings at Packers Betting Odds and Trends
Green Bay opened as a 14-point favorite with the total at 51 on NFL odds. The lean is about 62 percent on the Packers. Green Bay is 6-2 ATS and 3-0 at home. Minnesota is 4-3-1 ATS and 2-1-1 at home. The Pack are 5-3 on ‘over/under’ and Vikes are 4-4.
Minnesota has covered just once in past eight vs. the NFL North and is 0-4 ATS in past four on Monday night. Pack are 10-2 ATS in past 12 following a win. The ‘under is 7-1 in Minnesota’s past eight road games. It is 5-1 in Green Bay’s past six vs. NFC North. The ‘over’ is 6-1 in past seven meetings.
Monday Night Football Predictions: Vikings at Packers Picks
This is the fourth year in a row these two play a prime-time game and eighth overall matchup on MNF (Vikes lead 4-3). Let’s be honest, Green Bay will win. The Pack have won eight straight at home (now longest streak in NFL) and 14 of their past 15. They are better at nearly every position.
But this series is usually close as 15 of the past 18 regular-season meetings have been decided by seven points or less. Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen will need to be a big factor, but the NFL’s sack leader usually is. Against the Panthers last time out he played a role in forcing two turnovers that led to 14 Vikings points (he had two sacks in previous game vs. Packers).
And Peterson will need a big game as well to keep it close by keeping Rodgers off the field. But Peterson has been terrific of late.
We also know Green Bay is going to score: It has been held below 30 points three times and not fewer than 24.
Thus I’m taking the Vikings. Would like to hold out and hope for 14.5 points, but it might also drop to 13.5. And I’m going ‘over’ because I think the final is something like 34-21.
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