Playing a winner-take-all NFC North game at is old hat for the Green Bay Packers at this point. They look for a fifth straight division title when hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the lone prime-time game of Week 17 on Sunday Night Football. The Vikings haven't won the North since 2009.
Both teams are 10-5 and in the playoffs no matter what happens Sunday. The winner is the No. 3 seed and will host a game on wild-card weekend. Should Minnesota pull the upset, it would host No. 6 seed Seattle next week. If the Vikings lose and Seattle wins at Arizona earlier in the day, then Minnesota might as well stay in Green Bay because there would be a rematch at Lambeau next week.
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Does that Week 17 wild-card rematch scenario sound familiar? In 2012, the last time the Vikings made the postseason, they beat the visiting Packers 37-34 to clinch a wild-card spot on the final Sunday. The next week, Minnesota went to Lambeau and lost 24-10. The Vikings had to start Joe Webb at QB that game because of an injury to starter Christian Ponder from Week 17.
If Minnesota loses to Green Bay, which I expect, and Seattle loses in Arizona, then the Vikings are the No. 5 seed and would play at Washington next week. What's interesting about that Seahawks-Cardinals game is neither team might care by the 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff. That's because Arizona would be locked into the NFC's No. 2 seed if Carolina beats visiting Tampa Bay, which should happen, in a 1 p.m. game. In that scenario, do the Cards rest their key guys? I would think so. You don't risk Carson Palmer's knees against that vicious Seattle defense. Do the Seahawks go all-out to determine whether they get to play at Washington or Green Bay (assuming Vikings lose)? I guarantee that the Seahawks would rather face the Redskins.
Vikings at Packers Betting Story Lines
Barring multiple turnovers by the Packers or defensive/special teams scores by the Vikings, I don't give them much chance unless Adrian Peterson has a big day. And he has extra motivation do to so as Peterson looks for his third career rushing title. He has 1,418 yards, with Tampa's Doug Martin at No. 2 with 1,354. I doubt Martin has a huge game at Carolina since the Panthers have to try 100 percent. Peterson, 30, appears set to become the first rushing champ in his 30s since Curtis Martin in 2004. Peterson has the sixth-most yards by a 30-year-old back in NFL history, but realistically can't climb higher than fourth. Peterson already has cashed in big. By surpassing 1,350 yards and helping the Vikings secure a playoff berth, Peterson has guaranteed himself at least a $4 million bonus on the third day of the 2016 league year.
Every time I think the Packers have things figured out and are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, they lay an egg. They took a three-game winning streak into last week's game at Arizona. There's no shame in losing at the excellent Cardinals, but it was a 38-8 wipeout. Aaron Rodgers was just 15-for-28 for 151 yards and was sacked a whopping eight times for 70 yards. He lost two fumbles and both were returned for touchdowns.
Think the Vikings might blitz a lot Sunday like Arizona did? The Pack were without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari with an injury and lost starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga to an ankle injury during the game. Their status for this game is up in the air. Doesn't look great for Bakhtiari at least.
In Week 11 at Minnesota on a Thursday night, Green Bay played one of its most complete games of the year in a 30-13 win. The Vikings led only briefly 6-3 in the first quarter. Rodgers threw for 212 yards and two scores and was sacked only twice. Eddie Lacy ran for 100 yards and James Jones caught six passes for 109 and a score. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 296 yards and a score but was sacked six times. Peterson only got 13 carries and totaled 45 yards.
Vikings at Packers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Green Bay is a 3-point favorite (-125) with a total of 45.5. The Packers are -175 on the moneyline and Vikings +155. On the alternate line, the Pack are -3.5 (+100) and -2.5 (-150). Minnesota is 12-3 against the spread (6-1 on road) and 4-10-1 "over/under" (1-5-1 on road). Green Bay is 9-6 ATS (4-3 at home) and 5-10 O/U (1-6 at home).
The Vikings are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 after a win. They are 6-2 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a winning record. Green Bay has covered six of its past nine following a loss. The Pack are 2-5-1 ATS in their past eight after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game. The under is 8-1 in the Vikings' past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 8-2 in their past 10 in the division. The under is 5-1 in Green Bay's past 12 overall. The home team is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 11-5 in the past 16.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Vikings at Packers Betting Predictions
The young Vikings aren't used to a game like this, while Green Bay won in Chicago in 2013 for the North title and then beat the visiting Lions last year in Week 17 for the division crown. Something about the regular-season finale brings out the best in Green Bay. It is 8-1 in the past nine Week 17 games and 5-0 at home. Green Bay has scored 276 points in Week 17 games over that span, tied with the Pats for the most in the NFL. The Pack also have won 10 of the past 12 in this series, with that lone loss listed above (one tie).
I don't think this is all that close as Minnesota has just one win over a playoff-bound team (and that was when Chiefs were in tailspin), but to be safe give only the 2.5 points. Go under the total. As one would expect, it will be quite chilly in Green Bay on Sunday night, although it doesn't appear there will be any snow.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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