The Spread and Total
Minnesota Vikings (-9, O/U 40.5) at Green Bay Packers, courtesy of gtbets.eu. (Saturday, Dec. 23, 8:30 PM ET)
With the Packers eliminated from playoff contention and placing Aaron Rodgers on IR, the Vikings are big road favorites. Brett Hundley played most of the game at quarterback for Green Bay when these teams met in October and the Vikings won 23-10, shutting out the Packers in the second half. The only time Minnesota has been a bigger favorite this year was in Week 8, when they covered an 11-point spread versus Cleveland in London (33-16).
Minnesota Vikings: 11-3 SU (10-4 ATS); 1st NFC North
Green Bay Packers: 7-7 SU (7-7 ATS); 3rd NFC North
Key Injuries and Absences
CB Tramaine Brock (foot), out; S Andrew Sendejo (ankle), questionable; T Riley Reiff (ankle), questionable; CB Mackensie Alexander (rib), questionable.
Green Bay Packers
QB Aaron Rodgers (shoulder/collarbone), IR/out; WR Davante Adams (concussion), out; CB Demetri Goodson (hamstring), out; LB Nick Perry (ankle/shoulder), doubtful; G Jahri Evans (knee), questionable; CB Davon House (shoulder/back), questionable; LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), questionable.
- Oct. 15, 2017 (U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis): Minnesota 23, Green Bay 10
- Dec. 24, 2016 (Lambeau Field, Green Bay): Green Bay 38, Minnesota 25
- Sept. 18, 2016 (U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis): Minnesota 17, Green Bay 14
- Jan. 3, 2016 (Lambeau Field, Green Bay): Minnesota 20, Green Bay 13
- Nov 22, 2015 (TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis): Green Bay 30, Minnesota 13
Significant Betting Trends
- The Vikings are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games.
- Minnesota failed to cover their first two road games, but are 4-1 ATS in their last five.
- In three of Minnesota’s four ATS losses this year, the total has gone under.
- The Packers have hit the over in four straight and six of the last seven.
- Green Bay is 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS with Brett Hundley as their primary QB (including Week 6, when Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in the first quarter). After starting 0-3 SU and ATS, Green Bay has covered in four of Hundley’s last five starts.
- In each of Green Bay’s four ATS wins under Hundley, the total went over.
- In three of Green Bay’s four ATS losses under Hundley, the total went under.
- The Packers are 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS as an underdog this season.
An unfamiliar dynamic will permeate Lambeau Field when these division rivals square off on Saturday: the Packers have been eliminated from postseason consideration, while the Vikings are battling for a first-round bye, which they can secure by winning their final two regular-season games. With nothing but pride left to play for, Green By placed Aaron Rodgers back on IR and ruled Davante Adams (concussion) out.
The NFC North changed for good this year when these teams met on October 15. Anthony Barr hit Rodgers on the Packers second drive, breaking his collarbone and altering the course of the entire season. Brett Hundley came on in relief and was awful, going 18 of 33 for 157 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Minnesota’s offense didn’t exactly light it up, either, going one for three in the red zone and turning the ball over twice; but they out-gained the Packers 351-227 and won the game handily (23-10).
The Packers were 4-1 before the Rodgers injury. Their lone loss came at Atlanta, and they had wins over Seattle and Dallas. The loss in Minnesota was the first of three straight. Green Bay fell to New Orleans and Detroit at home, before staunching the bleeding with a Week 10 win in Chicago. Since then, the Packers have beaten the Bucs and Browns while falling to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Carolina.
Last week, with Rodgers at the helm for the first time in two months, Green Bay fell to the Panthers 31-24. They trailed 31-17 with under three minutes to go, but scored, recovered an onside kick, and were driving for the tying score when Geronimo Allison fumbled inside the Panthers 30-yard line, ending the rally and Rodgers’ season. Green Bay committed all four turnovers in the game, including three Rodgers interceptions.
While Rodgers was not himself last Sunday, the offense was still better than it has been under Hundley. The Packers have averaged just 18.5 points per game under the third-year pro. Hundley has gotten better over the course of the year, and the team’s scoring has increased over his last three appearances — a shootout loss to the Steelers (31-28), a 26-20 win over Tampa Bay, and a 27-21 victory in Cleveland — but the Packers needed OT in both of the wins. In reality, Hundley only played well in two of the three; against Tampa, he was 13 of 22 for a meagre 84 yards and a pick.
Regardless of who the quarterback has been, Green Bay’s defense has struggled. They rank 26th in the league in yards allowed, and are below average against both the pass and run. In three of their last four games the Packers have allowed opponents to average at least five yards per carry. Carolina sprinted for 151 yards on the ground on Sunday.
Interestingly, despite a convincing win in the first meeting, Minnesota managed just 3.5 yards per carry and 112 yards total on the ground. For the season, the Vikings are ninth in the NFL in ground yards, though their per carry average of 3.9 yards is 21st in the league.
In Sunday’s 34-7 romp over Cincinnati, the Vikings rushed for 124 yards at 3.6 YPC clip. But don’t read too much into that low per-carry average. Minnesota was up big early and simply wanted to speed up the game. Everyone in the stadium knew they were going to employ a run-heavy attack. The game, as a whole, was completely and utterly dominated by the Vikes, who held the ball for more than 35 minutes and limited the Bengals to 161 total yards. That was essentially par for the course this season for the defense, which is giving up a little over 280 yards per game, second-best in the NFL.
Minnesota’s only loss since Week 4 came two weeks ago against Carolina (31-24). The Panthers put up 345 yards and forced three turnovers. Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum attempted 44 passes in the loss, the most he has thrown all year. In Viking wins this season, Keenum has averaged 31.6 passes per game as the starter.
Minnesota was riding an eight-game win streak before falling to the Panthers, including victories over likely playoff teams Baltimore and LA (Rams). During the 10 Viking games in which Minnesota has covered the spread this season they have done so by an average of 9.8 points a game.
It is very easy to see this game as a very motivated team against a squad playing out the string. That’s why we have point spreads. A nine-point number in Green Bay suggests this would be a mammoth 15-point figure if the game was in Minnesota. Interestingly, when these teams played in Minneapolis, the Packers were three-point favorites, though the personnel and circumstances are now drastically different.
The Vikings are 2-0 this season when favored by a touchdown or more. Green Bay nearly won outright the only time they were a big dogs, getting 14 in Pittsburgh a month ago. The Vikings are only 4-3 ATS on the road, and the number is just too large in this contest.
As for the total, these teams’ games are consistently nearing 50 points. Though Hundley was weak in his first appearance against the Vikings, he is a lot better now, and both the spread and total underestimate his ability to put points on the board, especially with Green Bay’s run game picking up the slack (second in rushing DVOA). The Packers may not be able to score enough points to win, but they have a good chance of covering and helping the total to go over.
Pick: Packers (+9) and OVER (40.5)