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Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers Point Spread - Pick

Minnesota Vikings (11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (7-7 SU, 7-7 ATS)
Week 16 NFL
Date/Time: Saturday Night Football, December 23, 2017 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MIN -9/GB +9
Over/Under Total: 40.5

The Minnesota Vikings come to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers on Saturday Night Football. The Vikings are flying high at 11-3 and with questions looming over the Eagles, they can start to stand out as the team to beat in the NFC. On Sunday, they continued winning with a 34-7 win over the Bengals at home. They take to the road in a tough road spot against a Green Bay team that really made life hard on themselves with a 31-24 loss to the Panthers in Aaron Rodgers' first game back on Sunday. Their playoff hopes took a fatal hit as a result, with Atlanta's win on MNF taking them out of playoff contention. Who can get the job done at Lambeau on Saturday night? Rodgers was first hurt the first time these teams met in week 6, when Minnesota won 23-10. Maybe at home, the Packers can give the Vikings a better game this time around, again without Rodgers.

The Vikings are starting to get the respect they deserve. Their lopsided win on Sunday was their tenth cover of the season, as they've been very dependable at the betting windows. They look like they actually battled through injury issues to become one of the more-complete teams in the conference. After losing to Carolina the previous week, they wasted no time in getting back to their winning ways last Sunday. They have now won 9 of ten games, as both sides of the ball got their act together last week.

Again, the Minnesota offense has been resolute in the face of adversity. Twice in two seasons, they saw their starting QB befallen by injuries. And this season, they also lost their star rookie back and despite all that, they've forged a strong offensive identity. A big part of that is Case Keenum, the journeyman QB who has found a home in Minneapolis. He was 20-for-23 for 236 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday in a very efficient performance. On Sunday, he hit Stefon Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph for TD passes. On the ground, Latavius Murray was effective with 76 yards and a TD, while Jerick McKinnon added some nice runs and a was a big weapon as a receiver, with 114 yards on 7 big catches. Granted, seven of Minnesota's 34 points were scored on defense, but it was a strong performance by the offense nonetheless and they seem to be getting better as the season carries on.

The Minnesota defense has a lot of good things going for it. They might be the most-balanced defense in the league, excelling in all areas from run and pass defense, pass-rushing, and making big plays. We saw some of everything last Sunday. The Bengals were stuck in quicksand and put forth only 161 yards of total offense. Up front, they got after the passer, with Brian Robison getting two sacks and Danielle Hunter getting another. An improving pass-defense was both stout and got a big pick from Terence Newman. At linebacker, they got some strong play again, with Eric Kendricks all over the field and taking an Andy Dalton pass to the house for a pick-six. This group is a handful and more often than not, opposing offenses struggle mightily against this "D."

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The Packers really had a tough spot on Sunday for Rodgers' return, taking on a hot Panthers team that was coming off a win over the Vikings. With the Packers now out of contention, they have decided to place Rodgers back on IR. The Packers took a 14-10 lead into the locker-room on Sunday, but were beaten up in the second-half. Rodgers was rusty and threw three picks. And with a defense that wasn't strong in any one area on Sunday didn't help, either. The Packers could have given their playoff-hopes a boost. But with the loss on Sunday, they fall to 7-7 and are now officially out of it after eight straight playoff performances.

The Packers turn back to Brett Hundley this week. An Aaron Rodgers he'll never be, but after some rough outings in Rodgers' absence, he upped his stock and showed he can be a serviceable QB in this league. And having played a lot this season, he's a familiar presence behind center. Rodgers wasn't bad other than the three picks. He threw for nearly 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also made some nice runs on the day with RB Aaron Jones helping the Packers put up 120 yards rushing on just 19 carries. Rodgers was able to connect well with WR Randall Cobb and TE Richard Rodgers on the day. Davante Adams took another bad hit and left the game with a concussion. Even with all their miscues on the day, they still had a shot late when they were in Carolina territory and WR Geronimo Allison had the ball stripped away. Hundley didn't thrive against the Vikings the first time around, though that was the first action he saw this season. Still, with Rodgers and possibly Adams out, they are without their two biggest offensive contributors.

There have been times when the Packers played good defense this season. But more often than not, they haven't made things easier on the team this season. Cam Newton threw 4 TDs, the Carolina run-game went off, and they barely rushed the passer and had zero turnovers. They had some pre-snap penalties and were generally just not up to the task of making Rodgers' return a successful one. They didn't step up in clutch situations, a recurring problem. Another common thread this season is the absence at times of their heavy-hitters on this side of the ball, with guys like Clay Matthews and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix not having their most-consistent seasons.

This could be a hotly-contested divisional game. Some bad blood was fostered in their week six matchup with the injury to Rodgers, which the Packers felt resulted from a cheap move. Minnesota might have an inside-track to one of the top two playoff seeds in the NFC, but a group of teams are right on their heels, meaning the Vikings can't use this week as a chance to come up for air and relax. I see this game having the air of being more competitive than the spread suggests.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Green Bay Packers plus 9 points. Bet the Vikings vs. Packers game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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