Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#279 Minnesota Vikings 46 vs.
#280 Green Bay Packers -3
Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 1:00pm EDT
Lambeau Field, Green Bay
Written by Chris Kubala

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A pair of NFC North rivals lock up on the field in a week 2 matchup coming to you from the Badger State. The Minnesota Vikings make the trip as they lock up with the Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon. Minnesota comes in off a 28-12 home victory over Atlanta in their season opener last Sunday afternoon. Green Bay picked up a win in a defensive struggle as they shut down the Bears 10-3 on the road to open the season last Thursday night. The Packers lead the all-time regular season series 59-53-3: last season, the teams tied the first matchup 29-29 here on September 16, 2018, while the Vikings took a 24-17 home win on November 25, 2018.

 

A Quick Review of the Season to Date

Minnesota Vikings Review

Minnesota kept Atlanta in check for most of the first three quarters. That performance, coupled with a powerful run game, helped the Vikings jump to a comfortable lead as they cruised to the victory in the opener. Minnesota jumped to a 14-0 lead after the opening quarter, a 21-0 edge at the half and a 28-0 advantage after three quarters en route to the win. The Vikings were extremely effective in the ground game as they pounded the Falcons with the run. Minnesota ran the ball 38 times in the contest while throwing the ball just 10 times en route to the victory.

The Vikings were outgained in the contest by a 345-269 margin but most of those yards for Atlanta were empty yards. Atlanta picked up drives of 82, 66 and 71 yards in the second half but they were down 21-0 by that point. Minnesota gave up 27 first downs while recording 18 and lost the time of possession battle by a 30:13 to 29:47 margin in the game. The Vikings did force three turnovers in the game to help stall Atlanta in the first three quarters. Special teams stepped up as well as they blocked an Atlanta punt that set up Minnesota for their first touchdown drive. Minnesota jumped to a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes in the game and never looked back in the contest.

Green Bay Packers Review

Green Bay was in a defensive slugfest with the Bears as they were unable to get anything going for the most part on the offensive side of the ball. The Packers did just enough to get the win on the offensive side of the ball as points were ridiculously hard to come by in the contest. Green Bay’s defense gave up a first quarter field goal but kept Chicago off the board over the final 49 minutes of the contest in order to get the victory. A four play, 74-yard drive capped by Aaron Rodgers’ eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham gave Green Bay a 7-3 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter that they wouldn’t relinquish.

In a defensive struggle, the Packers were outgained by a 254-213 margin in the contest. Green Bay lost the first down battle by a 16-13 margin, though they did control the clock by a 31:03 to 28:57 count in the game. The Packers forced the game’s only turnover and it came at a crucial time. Former Bears safety Adrian Amos picked off Mitch Trubisky in the end zone with 1:58 to play in order to preserve the win. Green Bay held one final time as they forced Chicago to turn the ball over on downs with 1:02 to play, ending the drive with a sack.

Minnesota Vikings Offense vs. Green Bay Packers Defense

Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?

Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense

Coach Mike Zimmer has been preaching balance in his offense since he took over the reins back in 2014. Normally, the Vikings have been a pass-happy offense but the fact remains that, for one week at least, the team skewed heavily the other way. Minnesota started aggressively on the ground against the Falcons and didn’t let up as they battered Atlanta throughout the contest. The Vikings gashed Atlanta for 172 yards and three scores on the ground. Minnesota will try to maintain that success in this one as they go forward, which will make their passing game that much more dangerous.

Dalvin Cook leads the team as he’s carried the ball 21 times for 111 yards plus a pair of scores. Alexander Mattison, a rookie out of Boise State, has nine carries for 49 yards, while Ameer Abdullah (two carries, eight yards) and Kirk Cousins (six carries, four yards, TD) have also had their share of work. Cousins mostly was involved in kneeldown situations as he isn’t a great scrambler. As a team, the Vikings have three runs of at least 20 yards this season: Cook has two while Mattison has one. Minnesota racked up 10 first downs via the ground game so far this year.

Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense

Green Bay’s defense was strong in their season-opening win against the Bears in a smashmouth affair that seemed to be a throwback to the early days of the NFL. The Packers bottled the Bears’ run game up as they made life difficult for rookie David Montgomery and veteran Mike Davis. With points and yards coming at a premium in the contest for both sides, it was little surprise to see the Packers hold the Bears to just 46 yards on 15 carries on the ground.

Blake Martinez led the Packers with seven tackles (five solo) in the contest while Raven Greene (six tackles), Preston Smith (five tackles), Tony Brown (five tackles), Adrian Amos (five tackles), Kevin King (five tackles), Kenny Clark (five tackles) and Jaire Alexander (five tackles) were right behind. Martinez leads the team with 1.5 tackles for loss: Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith (three tackles) and King each have one. Amos, Clark and Alexander each have half a tackle for loss on the season. All told, the Packers have recorded six tackles for loss and have given up three first downs via the ground this season.

Who Has the Edge?

Green Bay shut down the run game of the Bears but may face a stiffer challenge this week. We saw Minnesota run wild on the Falcons as they just continued to batter Atlanta’s front seven with the ground game. The Vikings racked up an impressive 172 yards in the opener: they beat that mark just twice all of last season. Against the Packers last season, Minnesota ran for 68 yards in their week 2 tie and then picked up 91 yards in their week 12 win. Green Bay managed to contain Chicago but trying to rein in what Minnesota can do is going to be a challenge. This one is a slight edge to the Vikings due to what they did in week 1.

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings

Aerial Assault: Who Has the Upper Hand?

Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense

With the success that the Vikings had pounding the ball on the ground, the passing game wasn’t really a factor against the Falcons. Minnesota didn’t have to go to the air for the most part but when they did, it was effective as Atlanta simply didn’t have a way to stop the aggressive Vikings’ attack. While Minnesota will likely have to go to the air a bit more in this one, the fact remains that they managed to keep things under wraps in the early going. The Vikings threw just 10 passes in their season opening victory.

Kirk Cousins has completed eight of his 10 throws for 98 yards and a score. He took one sack for a loss of one yard. Adam Thielen leads the team with three receptions for 43 yards plus a score. Stefon Diggs has two catches for 37 yards while Cook (two receptions, nine yards) and Chad Beebe (reception, nine yards) had the other catch. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is going to have to become a factor in the passing game for the team to have success. Minnesota has two pass plays of at least 20 yards this season: Thielen and Diggs each have one.

Green Bay Packers Passing Defense

Green Bay made Mitch Trubisky look like a rookie again as their new look defense seemed to throw the Bears off. Some of that may be due to the fact that none of the Bears’ starters saw much of the field in the preseason but that was the case for both teams when you get right down to it. The Packers came up with key plays when they needed them in the contest, be it a timely sack to put the Bears behind the sticks, or a takeaway that gave the ball back to their own inept offense. Green Bay gave up 228 yards through the air but they got after Trubisky, hitting him repeatedly throughout the game.

Preston Smith leads the team in sacks after picking up 1.5 in the opening game of the season. Blake Martinez, Za’Darius Smith and Kevin King each had one sack while Clark picked up the other half a sack. Alexander and Tramon Williams (three tackles) each had two pass defenses while Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, Raven Greene, Darnell Savage and King each had one pass defense. Amos leads the team in interceptions as he has one this season. This season, Green Bay has recorded five sacks, one interception and nine pass defenses while allowing four pass plays of at least 20 yards.

Who Has the Edge?

This one could be tough to call as we simply didn’t see much of the passing attack from the Vikings. The fact that they were up 14-0 less than seven minutes into the game and their defense was swarming made the aerial assault a secondary option that they didn’t need to rely on. Green Bay showed a renewed pass rush as they smacked Trubisky around on a regular basis, recording 11 QB hits to go with their five sacks. Seeing how the Packers looked stout against the pass and we have to see more from the Vikings, we’ll point the needle slightly toward Green Bay.

Advantage: Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers Offense vs. Minnesota Vikings Defense

Who Has the Edge in the Ground Game?

Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense

Much like the Packers’ defense stifled the ground game of the Bears, they saw things go the same way when they tried to run the ball. Green Bay never established the ground game with any success as holes opened and then closed almost as quickly. Both the Green Bay and the Chicago defenses were aggressive and limited the potential for big plays in the run game. Be it due to lack of reps or the fact that the defenses were just that good, yards were at a premium. The Packers were shut down as they were held to a measly 47 yards on their 22 rushing attempts.

Aaron Jones was the leading ground gainer for the Packers though his numbers were hardly impressive. He finished with 13 carries for 39 yards in the contest. Aaron Rodgers was next in line with three carries for eight yards: Jamaal Williams ran the ball five times for no yards while Marquez Valdez-Scantling was stifled on his lone rushing attempt. As a team, the Packers finished with no run plays that covered at least 20 yards and have just one first down via the ground game this season.

Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense

Minnesota’s quick strikes offensively in the contest took the Falcons out of their game plan as they had to abandon the run probably earlier than they would have liked to. The Vikings were aggressive in crashing down and sealing off holes in the run game: when there actually was room to run, they closed quickly and didn’t give up big plays on the ground. Minnesota did their best to keep the Falcons in check in the opener: they limited Atlanta to 17 carries for 73 yards in the contest.

Safety Harrison Smith is tied for the team lead in tackles with nine (eight solo) along with fellow safety Jayon Kearse (six solo tackles, nine total) on the year. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (seven tackles, tackle for loss), along with linebackers Anthony Barr (six tackles, tackle for loss) and Eric Kendricks (six tackles) were effective at limiting the damage done. Trae Waynes (three tackles) has a forced fumble while Anthony Harris (five tackles) has a fumble recovery on the season. Danielle Hunter (four tackles) and Linval Joseph (four tackles) each have two tackles for loss to lead the team while Rhodes, Barr and Everson Griffen each have one. As a team, the Vikings have recorded seven tackles for loss, forced one fumble and have one fumble recovery on the year.

Who Has the Edge?

Minnesota took Atlanta out of their element by jumping to that 14-0 lead early and a 21-0 halftime edge. That made the Falcons rely heavily on the passing game and it didn’t pan out for them either. Green Bay was shut down on the ground in a game where neither team moved the ball much and there was only one touchdown scored in the entire contest. Last season, Green Bay ran for 98 yards in the week 2 tie and finished with only 82 yards in their week 12 loss. After seeing the Packers struggle to move the ball with any success on the ground in the opener, you have to lean toward the Vikings here.

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings

Who Has the Upper Hand in the Passing Attack?

Green Bay Packers Passing Offense

The season opener hardly was overwhelming offensive for the Packers as it was a classic defensive struggle for both teams. Green Bay never seemed to click offensively as they were unable to get a groove going. Even their lone scoring drive took just four plays and was set up by a big play through the air. Obviously, the Packers are going to have to be a lot sharper offensively if they hope to have success against the Vikings here. Another subpar showing could quickly turn the optimism from their week 1 win to grumbling about whether Matt LaFleur can coach.

Aaron Rodgers hit 18 of 30 passes for 203 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in the contest. He was sacked five times in the game, losing 37 yards in the process. Marquez Valdez-Scantling is tied for the team lead with four receptions for 52 yards on the year. Davante Adams (four catches, 36 yards), along with tight ends Jimmy Graham (three catches, 30 yards, TD) and Marcedes Lewis (two catches, 14 yards) are factors in the passing game. Green Bay has three pass plays covering at least 20 yards this season: Valdez-Scantling, Trevor Davis (reception, 28 yards) and Robert Tonyan (catch, 28 yards) each have one.

With this new offense, the Packers are playing more up-tempo and Rodgers may start using a cheat sheet on his arm.

“We do have some long calls in the plan — that’s just the way the offense is,” Rodgers said. “There’s a number of checks for different plays. It’s getting that call in and repeating it and going out there and trying to execute as quickly as possible. The great thing about this offense and the communication is we had a great debrief Monday and Tuesday about everything. We made some subtle changes to hopefully help with some of that tempo.”

Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense

Since the Vikings were out in front to a healthy advantage at the half and then after three quarters, they saw a healthy dose of the pass in their season opener. There was good and bad in that for Minnesota: the bad was that they gave up their fair share of numbers through the air. On the flip side, the good news was that they were unable to unleash their pass rush and make some plays in their secondary. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the majority of the yards they gave up were empty ones. Minnesota gave up 304 yards through the air plus two scores but they also recorded a pair of picks.

Hunter (four tackles, two tackles for loss), Barr (six tackles, tackle for loss), Joseph (four tackles, two tackles for loss) and Griffen (tackle, tackle for loss) each have one sack to share the team lead in that department. Anthony Harris (five tackles, fumble recovery, two pass defenses) has two interceptions to lead the team. Smith (nine tackles), Kendricks (six tackles) and Harris each have two pass deflections while Rhodes and Kearse each have one. All told, the Vikings’ defense has recorded four sacks, two interceptions and eight pass defenses on the year.

Who Has the Edge?

While Minnesota gave up over 300 yards through the air to the Falcons, they did their damage defensively as well. The Vikings recorded five sacks and picked off two passes, making life difficult for the Falcons to get back into the game. Green Bay looked like a team out of sync as most of their key players didn’t see the field in preseason action. While the Packers did enough to get by in their opener, their offensive line had some issues as Rodgers was dumped five times. Until we see better cohesiveness from the Green Bay offense, you have to give the edge to the Vikings here.

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings

Special Teams, Coaching, & Intangibles

Special Teams

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings

Coaching

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings

Intangibles

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota is 11th in the league in scoring offense as they put up an average of 28 points per game this season. The Vikings are 26th in the league in total offense with 269 yards per game and stand 20th in yards per play with an average of 5.5 yards per snap. Minnesota is 27th in scoring defense as they allow 12 points per game. The Vikings are 13th in total defense as they give up 345 yards per game and stand 11th in yards per play as they allow 5.1 yards per snap. Minnesota is tied for 1st in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are +3 this season.

The Vikings are tied for 1st in the league in red zone success as they convert 100 percent of their trips inside the 20 into touchdowns this season. Minnesota is tied for 11th in red zone defense as they give up touchdowns on 50 percent of their opponents’ trips inside the 20 this season. The Vikings are 10th in the league in third down conversions as they convert 50 percent of their chances. Minnesota is terrific getting off the field on third down defensively as they are 6th: opposing teams are converting 25 percent of their opportunities. The Vikings are 18th in time of possession as they hold the ball 49.64 percent of the time this season.

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay is 29th in the league in scoring offense as they put up 10 points per game on the season. The Packers are 31st in the league in total offense with 213 yards per game and stand 31st in yards per play with 3.7 yards per snap. Green Bay is first in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of three points per contest. The Packers are a solid 5th in total defense as they allow 254 yards per game and stand third as they give up only 3.9 yards per play. Green Bay is tied for 11th in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are a +1 on the season.

The Packers are tied for 18th in red zone success as they have cashed in 50 percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. Green Bay is tied for 1st in red zone defense as they held opposing teams to a zero percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns goes. Green Bay is a miserable 31st in the league in third down conversions as they have converted 16.67 percent of their situations this season. The Packers are solid in getting off the field as opposing teams have converted 20 percent of their third downs, which is fourth in the league. Green Bay is 12th in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 51.75 percent of the time.

Advantage:

Final Outlook – Time to place those bets!

Week 1 showed us some things but left others up in the air. We saw that Minnesota can run the ball when they put their mind to it as Cook went over 100 yards en route to the Vikings piling up 172 yards on the ground. On the other side of the equation, the Packers relied on their defense to get the victory over the Bears but their offense failed to deliver much. While Green Bay got by with one touchdown to earn the win in their season opener, this one will be a stiffer challenge. Minnesota was 1-0-1 against Green Bay last season and their ability to move the ball gives them the edge over the Packers at this point. Green Bay has to do more offensively to be considered as an option.

Minnesota is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 in September, 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games after accumulating less than 150 yards passing in their previous game and 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game. Green Bay has gone 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 250 total yards in their previous game, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC North foes and 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS win. Take the points and the Vikings, who were more cohesive on both sides of the ball in the opener.

Regarding the total, Minnesota showed that they can put up a decent point total even without throwing the ball. One has to think that after knocking the rust off a bit, Rodgers and company will be poised to try and actually move the ball, not to mention put points on the board. Still, you have to think that the defenses will be a factor in this one given the way they performed in week one. The under is 5-0 in the Vikings’ last 5 vs. NFC teams, 6-1 in their last 7 games overall and 5-1 in their last 6 games following a straight up win of more than 14 points. Green Bay has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four against the NFC North, 4-0 in their last 4 vs. a team with a winning record and 6-1 in their last 7 games on grass. The teams have stayed under the total in seven of the last nine meetings: look for this one to follow suit.

Updated on Sep 14 at 2:35pm EDT

Minnesota has some injury issues in the secondary that are worth monitoring heading into kickoff. The Vikings have listed corner Mackensie Alexander out with an elbow injury: in addition, Mike Hughes is doubtful with a knee injury while Mark Fields is listed as questionable. That leaves the Vikings rather thin at the corner spot if Hughes and Fields don’t take the field. Starting linebacker Ben Gedeon is questionable with a groin injury while starting left guard Pat Elflein is also questionable with a knee issue.

Green Bay has their own injury woes for this contest as well. Starting inside linebacker Oren Burks has been ruled out with a chest injury: that pushes B.J. Goodson into a starting role. Backup receiver Darrius Shepherd, who also is an option on kickoff and punt returns, is also out with a hamstring injury. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari is questionable as he deals with a back injury while nickel/dime back Ka’dar Hollman is questionable with a neck issue.

The weather forecast at kickoff at Lambeau has temperatures in the low-70s with a lot of clouds. There is a 15 percent chance of rain around kickoff but the rain is expected to blow through prior to game time: the chance of precipitation drops down to around two percent by the time the first quarter should come to an end. Winds are projected to range between five and 10 miles an hour from the west, so that shouldn’t be much of a factor either.

When the initial lines opened for this contest, Green Bay was a three-point favorite with the over/under set at 46 points. As of Saturday afternoon, there’s been very little movement on the line as the Packers still are favored by 2.5 to three points depending on the sportsbook. The over/under has ticked down as it has moved to 43 points in this contest. Currently, the moneyline shows Green Bay as a -140 to -150 favorite while Minnesota can be found as a +120 to +130 underdog depending on the sportsbook. As of this writing, 55 percent of the bets are backing Minnesota +3 points. When it comes to the moneyline, a solid 59 percent of the wagers are backing the Vikings on the road. Meanwhile, 64 percent of bets are projecting this one to fall short of the total.

This one has the makings of a defensive struggle. Green Bay gave up only three points in their season opening win while Minnesota blanked Atlanta for three quarters before giving up two garbage time scores in the fourth. The Packers’ offense looked out of sync in their opener and now have to contend with a Minnesota defense that is opportunistic at making things happen. Rodgers is contemplating going to a wristband with plays on it as he attempts to adapt to LaFleur’s offensive scheme. If Minnesota’s pass rush gets to Rodgers and the secondary holds up, the Vikings can steal this one on the road. Take the points and the visitors here.

Minnesota Vikings 21, Green Bay Packers 17

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.