Vikings vs. Packers Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Expert’s Guide To Betting Sunday Night Football
Getty Images. Pictured: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
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- Our expert breaks down both sides in his betting preview for Sunday Night Football Week 17.
|Time||8:20 p.m. ET|
When these teams met in Week 11 in Minnesota, the Vikings dealt the Packers one of their three straight-up losses and one of their four against-the-spread (ATS) losses.
Will the Vikings have the same luck at Lambeau Field without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday?
Let’s dig in.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Vikings vs. Packers Injury Report
- DT Michael Pierce (undisclosed): Out
- CB Cameron Dantzler (calf): Doubtful
- TE Tyler Conklin (hamstring): Questionable
- LB Chazz Surratt (illness): Questionable
- OT Billy Turner (knee): Out
- OT David Bakhtiari (knee): Out
- CB Jaire Alexander (shoudler): Out
- DE Tyler Lancaster (back): Questionable
Vikings vs. Packers Matchup
|Vikings Offense||DVOA Rank||Packers Defense|
|Vikings Defense||DVOA Rank||Packers Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Vikings Turn to Mannion in Pivotal Game
This is their biggest game of the year. And they’ll be starting Sean Mannion, a seven-year journeyman who has attempted 74 passes in seven pro seasons.
Mannion has started two NFL games, both of which came in the last week of the season, and one of which came with the Vikings:
- Week 17, 2019 (MIN vs. CHI): 12-of-21, 126 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT; Lost 21-19
- Week 17, 2017 (LAR vs. SF): 20-of-34, 169 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT; Lost 34-13
Mannion has never started an NFL game on the road, and he practiced only one day this week, as he was on the COVID list himself.
Beyond the obvious talent drop-off from Cousins to Mannion, the biggest thing to worry about against this Packers defense is turnovers. Joe Barry’s defense has netted an interception on 3.4% of opposing pass attempts, the fourth-highest rate in the league. Mannion’s career interception rate is 4.1%, nearly double the league average.
Mannion also lacks mobility. He has never scrambled on 77 career dropbacks, according to PFF, and his 23 career rush attempts have come mostly on kneel-downs, netting negative 17 yards.
According to Pro Football Reference, Green Bay has generated pressure on the opposing quarterback 24.54% of the time, which ranks 19th, but is considerably more impressive when you consider that the Packers have blitzed only 21.5% of the time, the seventh-lowest rate in the league.
Without having to account for Adam Thielen (IR-ankle), Barry may dial up considerably more pressure than he normally does, while at the same time doubling or bracketing Justin Jefferson.
A Mannion-led offense coupled with no Thielen will enable Barry stack the box more an in effort to stop Dalvin Cook, who posted 115 yards and a touchdown on 25 touches when these teams met in Week 11. The Vikings’ only hope of pulling off the upset rests with Cook having a monster day against a Packers run defense that ranks 31st in DVOA (1.0%) and yards per carry allowed (4.83).
If you got a chance to watch the early game on Christmas, you may recall the Browns popping off for 219 rushing yards on 25 carries, an absurd 8.8 yard-per-carry average. Run defense has been a more recent issue for the Packers, as they allowed an average of 102.5 yards in 12 games before the bye but 166.3 in three games since.
I still expect the Vikings to have success on the ground against a bottom-three run defense, but not as much success at they would have had with a more threatening passing game.
Packers Need a Complete Four Quarters
If the first meeting is any indication, the Packers shouldn’t have trouble moving the ball on the Vikings, as Green Bay piled up 467 total yards and 31 points while not turning the ball over. Most impressively, the Packers went 7-of-11 on third down against what is currently the NFL’s fourth-best third-down defense in terms of conversion rate allowed (35.5%). Excluding kneel downs to end the half, the Packers had eight drives and only punted twice, scoring four touchdowns and going 1-of-2 on field goals.
In theory, the Vikings have what it takes to slow Aaron Rodgers, as they’re capable of generating decent pressure (26.3%, ninth in the NFL). Rodgers has struggled under pressure this season, completing just 37.6% of his passes for 4.9 yards per attempt, compared to a 76.2% completion rate for 8.5 yards per attempt from a clean pocket.
The key to his success has been getting the ball out, as he has the 11th-quickest release (2.60 seconds) and has been pressured at the fourth-lowest rate (26.0%), per PFF. In the first meeting, Rodgers was only pressured seven times, and he threw for touchdowns in two of those instances.
Given the icy temperatures that will feel like sub-zero when factoring in the wind chill, the Packers may lean on their ground game, as that has been the weakness of the Vikings’ defense. Even without Aaron Jones in the first matchup, the Packers were able to average 5.0 yards per carry on 19 carries.
The issue for the Packers since the bye has been playing a complete game for four quarters. In Week 14 against Chicago, they lost the first half, 27-21, before winning the second half, 24-3. In Week 15 against the Ravens, they nearly blew a 31-17 fourth-quarter lead, holding on to win, 31-30. And last week, they built a 24-12 lead before being held scoreless for the final 20:48, again narrowly hanging on win, 24-22.
NFL Pick: Vikings vs. Packers
The Packers have been overachieving this season, going 12-3 despite a point differential indicative of a nine-win team. The Vikings, meanwhile, have been somewhat unlucky, going 7-8 despite a point differential closer to an eight-win team.
That is to say: This line was inflated when it opened at -6.5. And as good as Cousins is, he is not worth 6.5 points to the spread, which is approaching Rodgers/Tom Brady/Patrick Mahomes territory.
With all of that said, the difficult thing to measure here is the intangible factors, but they undoubtedly favor Green Bay.
For one, it’s hard to know where the Vikings locker room is at after learning they’d be forced to play the most important game of the season without their starting quarterback. It’s also fair to wonder exactly where Mannion is at, both physically and mentally, as he is recovering from COVID himself and only practiced once this week before having to travel to Green Bay.
There’s also Jefferson calling out his coaching staff and teammates.
On top of that, here are a bunch of conflicting trends for this game, per our Action Labs data:
- The Vikings are 33-22 (60%) ATS as underdogs under Mike Zimmer
- The Packers are 61-28-3 (69%) ATS at home in games started by Rodgers
- The Vikings are 35-17 (68%) ATS after a loss under Zimmer
- The Packers are 25-12 (68%) ATS in divisional home games started by Rodgers
The books will likely take big losses if the Packers cover and the game goes under, as we tracked 96% of the spread dollars on Green Bay and 85% of the over/under dollars on the under as of Saturday evening (check real-time public betting data here).
If you’re looking to bet this game, I hope I’ve given you enough information to make an educated decision, but I personally am staying away.
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