Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-3)
This Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings (10-5, 4-3 road) will head to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers (10-5, 5-2 home) in a de facto NFC North title game (8:25 PM Eastern). Both teams have already qualified for the postseason, but to the victor goes a home playoff game on Wild Card weekend, while the loser will have to travel in round one.
Sunday’s game will be the second meeting of the year between the division rivals. The Vikings had the chance to take control of the division when they hosted the Packers in late November, but Green Bay stomped on Minny, 30-13. The ground games proved to be the difference; Eddie Lacy hit the century mark for the Packers while Adrian Peterson was held to just 45 yards on 13 carries.
The Packers have gone 3-2 since that game, but haven’t looked sharp. They played arguably their worst game of the season last weekend, getting demolished 38-8 in Arizona. Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times in the game and had just 151 yards passing. The Packers found themselves shutout at the half (17-0) and gave up two majors to the Arizona defense off turnovers.
The Vikings, meanwhile, have turned it up a notch since getting demolished themselves by the Seahawks in early December (38-7). They battled the Cardinals hard on the road, losing but covering in a tight 23-20 contest; then they pounded both the Bears (38-17) and Giants (49-17) in back to back weeks.
Teddy Bridgewater and the offense have been extremely efficient, while the defense turned up its play when the likes of Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith returned to the lineup.
While it’s hard to ignore what happened when these teams hooked up the first time, every other trend seems to favor the Vikings. They are 12-3 ATS on the year and have lost just once against the number on the road. The Packers have a decent ATS record themselves (9-6), but are playing their worst football of the year at the wrong time. With the Vikes healthy on D, expect that unit to give Rodgers the same sort of problems that Arizona was able to. Take Minnesota and the points.
Pick: Minnesota (+3).
(Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Adrian Peterson) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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