Vikings vs. Packers Odds & Picks: How To Still Find Betting Value Sunday
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins
Vikings vs. Packers Odds
The Minnesota Vikings head to Lambeau Field for a Week 8 matchup against the Green Bay Packers. These teams last faced each other in Week 1, with Green Bay defeating Minnesota 43-34 as a 1-point underdog.
This time around, oddsmakers opened with Green Bay as a 7-point favorite, but it’s been Minnesota that has gotten the money with the line dropping a full point at some sportsbooks (shop for the best line now).
Perhaps one explanation for the line move has to do with the 26 mph winds that are expected during the game. This has also affected the total, which opened at around 56 but has since been bet down to as low as 49.5. This makes sense because inclement weather can lead to fewer points on the scoreboard which in turn creates additional value on the underdog that’s already catching points.
Another explanation is that the Vikings will be the fresher of the two teams after coming off a bye in Week 7. However, a closer look suggests that this situational spot may not necessarily favor Mike Zimmer and Minnesota.
Minnesota will return from its bye without defensive end Yannick Ngakoue after the former Pro Bowl player was traded to the Ravens. His departure may be a sign that the Vikings are waving the proverbial white flag on their season, as they might even offload more players to continue to acquire draft picks.
Ngakoue accounted for 38% of their sack production (13) this season. Without him to generate pressure, Aaron Rodgers will likely feel even more confident behind an offensive line that’s tied for second with the fewest sacks (8) given up this season. Quarterbacks generally make fewer mistakes when they have more time in the pocket and that scenario could prove problematic for a Minnesota defense that’s third-worst in opponent passer rating (110.4 per TeamRankings).
Despite the windy conditions that are expected in Green Bay, teams simply can’t just line up and run the ball 80% of the time. Quarterbacks are always going to have to play a role especially in today’s modern game. And the reality is that Kirk Cousins hasn’t been the same player since Stefon Diggs was traded this past offseason.
Last year, Cousins finished in the top half of the league with a 60.4 mark in ESPN’s Total QBR, whereas this season, he has the fourth-worst QBR (48.6). His decision-making has simply been poor given his 10 interceptions, the most in the NFL.
As far as injuries are concerned, Minnesota will be without three cornerbacks: Mike Hughes remains limited due to a neck injury, Holton Hill continues to rehab a foot injury, and Cameron Dantzler is on the COVID-19 reserve list.
One positive note for the Vikings is that running back Dalvin Cook could be back in action after picking up a groin injury in Week 5. Whether Cook will be at full strength remains to be seen, as he was taken off the injury report at one point on Friday before being added as questionable later in the day.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay comes into this game atop the NFC North with a 5-1 record.
The Packers pretty much had their way with the Vikings when they faced them in Week 1. Green Bay racked up 364 yards through the air and 158 on the ground. The Packers have been able to maintain that standard throughout the season, as Football Outsiders has them ranked fourth in offensive DVOA. Much of that has to do with Rodgers, who has the highest QBR at 85.6 this season.
Rodgers seems much more comfortable in his second year of Matt LaFleur’s offense. Despite a 13-3 regular season and a trip to the NFC Championship in 2019, the future Hall of Famer was ranked 20th in QBR behind the likes of Daniel Jones and Baker Mayfield. The Packers’ passing game has been more vertical in 2020 as Rodgers is in top half of the league with eight yards per pass attempt compared to 2019, when he was in the bottom-half with an average of seven yards per pass.
Part of the Packers’ success this season is attributed to how they’ve performed in the red zone. They’re tied for third in the league with three red-zone touchdowns per game. Over their last three games, they’ve been the most efficient team in the red zone with an 89% touchdown conversion rate. That bodes well for Rodgers, who torched the Vikings for four touchdowns when they met in Week 1.
While the windy conditions are likely to affect the passing game for both teams, I would prefer Rodgers’ arm strength and his decision-making in the red zone to Cousins.
One thing that might fly under the radar is that Green Bay’s run defense has been quietly making strides. Over the past three games they’re allowing just 3.8 yards per rush attempt. They’ll need to be at their best to contain a Vikings team that rushed for 134 yards on 6.1 yards per carry in the teams’ first meeting.
On the injury front, Green Bay will be without starting running back Aaron Jones (calf) and cornerback Kevin King (quadricep).
The Packers had as many as 19 players listed on the initial injury report with seven players listed as questionable, including starting left tackle David Bakhtiari (chest), staring defensive end Tyler Lancaster (shoulder), along with safeties Darnell Savage (quadricep) and Raven Greene (oblique).
The Packers remain without wide receiver Allen Lazard, who is currently on IR. Lazard did manage to rejoin the team in practice this week following a successful core muscle surgery earlier this month.
A common narrative in the NFL is to back teams that are coming off a bye week. However, I’m not so sure that would work in this instance. Usually the bye affords teams the opportunity to return with a renewed effort, but I would actually question Minnesota’s motivation in this spot.
At 1-5, the Vikings have seemingly dug themselves an insurmountable hole in the playoff picture. Minnesota is seeded 15th in the NFC and would need to supplant eight teams above them for a chance at the playoffs. When you couple that with the fact that the team has already made it known that they’re looking to offload some players, it’s only fair to wonder about the team’s morale coming into this game.
Zimmer hasn’t exactly found the blueprint to rally teams coming off a bye. Zimmer is just 8-12 against the spread when coming off a bye and in his last five games he’s 0-5 against the number. His quarterback hasn’t fared much better, as Cousins is just 4-15 for a loss of 11.21 units coming off added rest.
While I understand why this line moved in favor of the underdog for a game likely to be affected by windy conditions, Cousins and a possible lack of motivation for the Vikings are enough to keep me off the dog in this spot.
If you missed grabbing the under earlier in the week, it makes sense to tease the total up and play the under with the Packers as part of a two-team teaser. That’s exactly how I’ll look to play this game as DraftKings is currently offering the total at 50 with the Packers as a 6-point favorite. A two-team, 5-point teaser would yield odds at +120 with a total of 55 and Green Bay a 1-point favorite — there’s sufficient value with being able to grab this at a plus-price.
A six-point teaser would also work in this spot.