The Minnesota Vikings are nine-point favorites for Saturday night’s NFC North division collision against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, according to William Hill.
For readers from the UK: Check out betting lines for American football matches at William Hill.
The line for the Week 16 matchup was much closer to even prior to Green Bay’s decision to place quarterback Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve. Rodgers played in a loss to the Carolina Panthers last week, throwing three interceptions in his first game action since Week 6.
Since the Rodgers injury, the Packers are 3-6 with wins over Chicago, Tampa Bay (in overtime) and Cleveland (in overtime). Meanwhile, the Vikings have lost just one of their last 10 games.
Minnesota can lock up a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs with a win over Green Bay and a loss by Carolina to Tampa Bay this week. The Vikings also have a far-fetched chance at the No. 1 seed — they just need to beat both Green Bay and Chicago and the current No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles need to lose to both Oakland and Dallas.
The Vikings’ offense has accumulated the eighth-most yards in the NFL this season, while Mike Zimmer’s defense has held opponents to the second-fewest yards. Meanwhile, Green Bay ranks 23rd and 26th in those respective categories.
The Packers hold the lead over the Vikings in the all-time series with a record of 60-52-2. The teams have met twice in the postseason, splitting both matchups at Lambeau Field.
The most recent meeting between Minnesota and Green Bay took place Week 6 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Rodgers’ injury midway through the first quarter thrust Brett Hundley into the starting quarterback role. Minnesota’s defense clamped down on the inexperienced Hundley and the Vikings prevailed 23-10.
No team has swept the regular season series since the Packers did so in 2014.
Kickoff Time: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Commentators: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya
Minnesota has listed one player as OUT and three players listed as QUESTIONABLE on this week’s injury report.
OUT: CB Tramaine Brock
QUESTIONABLE: S Andrew Sendejo, CB Mackensie Alexander, T Riley Reiff
Local reports have suggested that both Sendejo and Alexander are on track to play despite the questionable tag, while Reiff’s status is a bit more cloudy. If Reiff is forced to miss another game, Rashod Hill will likely replace him at left tackle.
Green Bay has listed two players as OUT, one player as DOUBTFUL and three players as QUESTIONABLE on this week’s injury report.
OUT: WR Davante Adams, CB Demetri Goodson
DOUBTFUL: LB Nick Perry
QUESTIONABLE: G Jahri Evans, CB Davon House, LB Clay Matthews
The biggest loss for the Packers is their leading receiver, Adams. Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis delivered a crushing, illegal blindside block that concussed Adams on Sunday. It was the second illegal hit Adams has absorbed this season that resulted in a concussion. In 14 games, Adams has caught 74 passes for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Geronimo Allison will likely be counted on to replace Adams’ snaps in the offense Saturday night.
Stat To Watch
The Vikings’ excellence in key situational moments has been essential to their success this season. Meanwhile, the Packers have been the opposite of excellent in such situations — particularly on third down.
Minnesota’s offensive third-down conversion rate of 45.2% ranks third in the NFL, while the Vikings defense has only allowed a 26.3% third-down conversion rate, ranking No. 1 in the NFL. The Packers rank 11th in third-down offense and 30th in third-down defense.
The Vikings’ third-down defense is actually the best the NFL has seen this century.
Vikings 3rd down defense is the best the NFL has seen this century.
Best 3rd down % by year:
2000 TEN 31%
01 NYG 30
02 PHI 31
03 TEN 28
04 CHI 30
05 ATL 30
06 BAL 29
07 KC 31
08 PIT 31
09 NYJ 32
10 NYG 32
11 ARI 31
12 DEN 31
13 DET 30
14 BUF 33
15 HOU 28
16 TB 34
2017 MIN 26%
— Krauser (@Krauserrific) December 18, 2017
Minnesota is clearly the superior team, both from a talent perspective and a coaching perspective, in this matchup. However, the weather will turn this game into a much more competitive game than it should be. Temperatures are expected to dip into single digits during the game. Minnesota starting quarterback Case Keenum has never played in below-freezing temperatures.
Hundley’s skill set has developed dramatically since the Vikings saw him unexpectedly back in the Week 6 meeting. Zimmer will need to be ready for the former UCLA Bruin’s improved pocket movement and ability to go through progressions.
The Vikings will come out on top, but it will be a lot closer than many expect.
Vikings 20, Packers 15