Yes, the Minnesota Vikings indeed have a chance to win the NFC North. As for the possibility for a high seeding, I’m not sure I’m smart enough to figure out all the tiebreakers. But they certainly have an opportunity on their home field, where they have been very profitable, to pull even with the Green Bay Packers in the division race as these teams clash in Monday Night Football, slated to begin at 8:15 PM ET at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
It will be televised, as usual, by ESPN, and BetAnySports customers can watch the game and place wagers in real-time using the technology of Sports Betting Ultra.
Currently Green Bay is 11-3 (9-5 ATS), with a one-game lead over Minnesota (10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS). The Vikings admittedly have the tougher assignment next week, as they have to play the Chicago Bears, while Green Bay goes to the Motor City to face a sliding Detroit Lions squad. But it certainly can be done. If Green Bay loses here and they end up tied with Minnesota for the division title, the Packers would win a tie-breaker. If Green Bay WINS, they capture the division crown. They could also be a #1 NFC seed if they win their two remaining games and Seattle beats San Francisco next week.
Back on September 15, these teams met at Lambeau Field, with Green Bay coming away with a 21-16 victory, a margin that was surprisingly thin when you consider that Minnesota turned the ball over four times and Kirk Cousins was very inaccurate, hitting just 14 of 32 (43.8%).
Minnesota absolutely gashed the Green Bay defense for 188 rushing yards (7.3 per attempt), and over the course of the season failures on the part of the Packers’ front seven have been no surprise, as they have allowed a bloated 4.6 yards a pop and hardly ever stopped the opposition at the line of scrimmage.
We wouldn’t put too much stock in that previous meeting, primarily because (a) Dalvin Cook, who had 154 yards for the Vikings, is sitting this out with an injury, and (b) Cousins, who struggled early as the scheme drew the ire of the receivers, has found his groove as he’s been moving around a lot more, rather than making himself a stationary target. Over his last ten games, he’s thrown 22 touchdown passes with only three interceptions.
So it’s a slightly different dynamic for the return match.
In the Monday night NFL odds that have an posted on this game, the Vikings are, of course, the favorites at home:
Minnesota Vikings -5
Green Bay Packers +5
Over 47 points -110
Under 47 points -110
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Minnesota has a top 10 defensive unit, both against the pass and against the run, but they are only 17th in the NFL in yards allowed per drive. One of the things that has allowed them to be effective is the fact that they force turnovers; in fact, they are fourth best in the NFL in that category.
So what you want at the quarterback position is somebody who can play under control, to say the least. That means a guy like Jameis Winston need not apply. But fortunately for Green Bay, they may have the ideal trigger man in the that regard with Aaron Rogers. Now, it is no secret that Rodgers took a while to adjust to the way first-year coach Matt LeFleur (Kirk Cousins’ QB coach at Washington, by the way) wanted to run this offense, and he has not lit up the stat sheet, necessarily. But he is doing one thing he’s always done, which is to avoid interceptions. In fact, he’s got a streak of 265 consecutive throws without being picked off. Green Bay is right near the top of the NFL when it comes to minimizing giveaways, and you have to consider how that mitigates something Minnesota usually takes advantage of.
And even though we would have to admit that the Packers have not been an offensive juggernaut, when they get down into the red zone, they have been outstanding. In fact, they lead the NFL in points per red zone trip (and are second in touchdowns).
Of course, we are obviously acknowledging a number of things here, one of which is that Rodgers’ career quarterback rating when he’s playing in Minneapolis since Mike Zimmer became head coach of the Vikings is more than 20 points lower than his career rating. And the Vikings have been one of the best pointspread plays as a home favorite under Zimmer as well (25-10-1 ATS, or 71.4%). They have a hot quarterback who seems to have found a formula to move the football without giving it away much himself.
But you have to take very strongly into consideration the fact that Cook is not available. Yes, we understand that Green Bay is a little “soft” up front, but Cook is uniquely equipped to take advantage of such a thing, and let’s face it, if just anyone could run the football for the Vikings, they would have done much better than 30th in the NFL last year in rushing, which was the case as Cook was injured.
And another thing that would bother us in the process of considering Minnesota here is that Cousins seems to have a “Monday Night Curse,” in that he has stepped on the field in this situation eight times, and come away without as much as one win OR covering effort.
Fundamentally, Green Bay may have enough going for it that makes it worth taking the points, particularly when taking Rodgers’ penchant for late-game heroics into account.
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