Minnesota Vikings (7-7 SU, 8-6 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (8-6 SU, 7-6-1 ATS)
Week 16 NFL
Date/Time: Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: MIN +6.5/GB +6.5
Over/Under Total: 43
The Minnesota Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers in a key NFC North matchup at Lambeau Field on Saturday. The Packers are still in it at 8-6, both in the wild card and in the division, but they need to keep winning, with their last game against first-place Detroit in a game that could be for the division. They've won four games in a row to resurrect their season and look for a big win at home this week. Minnesota lost badly on Sunday to the Colts, 34-6, at home. But with Adrian Peterson getting his feet wet in his first game back from injury, maybe they can make some noise against their division rival, a team they beat in week two, 17-14.
A lot has changed since these teams' week two meeting, a narrow win at home for the Vikes. At the time, the Vikes were playing well, on their way to a 5-0 start. The Packers were still working on different things and just a few weeks from a 4-game slide that threatened to derail their season. Since then, the Vikings season has gotten sideways with a 2-5 record in their last seven. Green Bay overcame terrible form to forge a nice streak that has them back in the division hunt.
These late-season games at Lambeau definitely give the Packers an edge, though Minnesota is not traditionally averse to playing in bad weather. With a dome now, this is the Vikings' first taste of cold December football. On top of that, they are facing a Green Bay team that has shown a lot of grit and resolve by bouncing back the way they have. Their 30-27 win over Chicago was not one for the ages, but the Packers were able to hold off a Bears team that has been increasingly plucky lately, with a late-drive leading to a field goal with time running out to notch the win.
Just as people began to question Aaron Rodgers, he has sprung forth with a series of good performances to put those voices to sleep. At points in the season, he was doing things that were very unlike him, with his legs not as spry as normal, while he failed to connect on passes we have grown accustomed to seeing him make. Lately, he's been connecting well with Jordy Nelson, who was again over 100 yards on Sunday. Tight end Jared Cook got involved with 85 yards through the air. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb fill out a nice pass-catching package. Most surprising on Sunday was the Green Bay run-game. Converted receiver Ty Montgomery looks to be warming up to the role of running back, as he ran 162 yards and two touchdowns. Christine Michael ran for a touchdown and had some useful runs. A run-game that had been a non-factor sprang to life in a big way on Sunday.
Key to the Packers' revival this season after a rough spell has been the defense. They didn't have their best game on Sunday perhaps, giving up a big game to Matt Barkley, who threw for 362 yards. Chicago back Jordan Howard also had a good day. But they at least made plays, with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picking off two passes, while Micah Hyde picked off another. Julius Peppers had another sack, with Mike Daniels and Clay Matthews also having success lately in getting after quarterbacks. Before Sunday's game against Chicago, the Packers had allowed just 36 combined points in their last three games.
Losers of 7 of their last 9 games, a 5-0 start seems like a distant memory for the Vikes. Losing by 28 at home to the Colts on Sunday is their low-point of the year and sometimes teams that had things their own way fall even harder when things go south. In the course of a few months, the Vikings have gone from a team to watch to a doormat. Since their 5-0 start, they have beaten just the Jaguars and Cardinals. They were at least losing close games, with a lot of tight games in November and early December, but Sunday was a hard game to watch for Minnesota fans.
The problems with the Minnesota offense are too many to name. When the defense was dominating, it was more-camouflaged. But as the defense became more mortal over the course of the season, the ineptitude on this side of the ball started to shine. Adrian Peterson returned last week, but did not look good. The line is a big part of that equation, as they have gotten worse over the course of the season. Partially as a result, QB Sam Bradford hasn't been able to do his thing. Bradford is completing over 71% of his throws with just 4 interceptions on the season, but the Minnesota aerial game is reduced to little dinky passes. The ground-game looks to get a boost from Peterson. But they should be able to do more with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph.
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The Minnesota defense is a good one, but has been left to fend for themselves with less support coming from the offense and special teams. The 34 points they allowed to the Colts was the first time a team scored more than 26 points against the Vikes this season. In their first five games, they gave up a little over 12 points a game. That number doubled over the last 9 games and that's been enough to throw a different light on it. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen have been adroit in getting after the quarterback and the defense has secured 22 turnovers. They're still good, not just as dominant as they were earlier in the season.
A good case can be made for Minnesota in a cold-weather spot where offenses might not thrive. And with Minnesota's defense, a position on the Vikings can easily be substantiated. Until one looks at how they performed last week against the Colts. To get outplayed is one thing. To be lethargic and convey a sentiment of disinterest is quite another. I'm expecting a somewhat conclusive Green Bay win on Saturday.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Green Bay Packers minus 6.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Vikings vs. Packers game from the comfort of your own home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!