Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
MNF - Packers at Vikings
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Green Bay at Minnesota (-5, 47), 8:15 pm ET, ESPN
The Vikings don’t have the pressure of missing the playoffs weighing them down as they take the field for this Monday night showdown with the Packers.
They’re safely in already and set to finish as the No. 5 seed or No. 6 seed. In order to win the NFC North, Minnesota would need to win here and then get help from lowly Detroit against Green Bay. Even at home, the Lions would have a difficult time containing Aaron Rodgers indoors considering their ghastly pass defense. If the Packers lose in Week 17 and the Saints fall in Carolina, Minnesota could finish as high as No. 2.
That elf on your shelf could also come to life and ask where he can get in on some Monday night props, but that’s probably not going to happen either.
In other words, this is somewhat of a freeroll for the Vikings. Win and they’ve got a great shot at the No. 5 seed, setting up a playoff rematch of the 2017 NFC Championship in Philadelphia. Lose and they’ll end up a larger underdog somewhere else. It wouldn’t be as ideal but they would at least have a seat at the table.
That makes this more of a perfect opportunity for Minnesota to get Kirk Cousins some much-needed big-game confidence than it is a burden you might normally see in Week 16. This isn’t do-or-die.
What’s really on the line here? It probably would be nice to have a chance to finish the season at U.S. Bank Stadium undefeated for the first time. The Vikings enter this one 23-7 straight up at home since the new building opened in 2016 and had a 7-1 mark there in ’17, so there’s a chance to make some history.
Beating the Packers would be nice too.
Green Bay has never won in Minnesota’s new home, coming in 0-3.
The Vikings were 1-9-1 over an 11-game stretch against Green Bay between 2010 and 2015 before finally winning the ‘15 regular-season finale to claim the NFC North that season, ultimately losing on Wild Card weekend when Blair Walsh missed that chip-shot. Their win over the Pack at Lambeau was their first over Rodgers under head coach Mike Zimmer and started a run that had seen them come into the season on a 5-1-1 spurt in the series.
Minnesota isn’t trying to go backwards by being swept again but the season will go on if it does.
Cousins wants to snap his remarkable 0-8 record on Monday nights that is used as an indictment of him being overpaid. That reputation won’t be erased until he wins a playoff game but he’s at least led the Vikings there after missing out after signing a three-year, $84 million deal prior to the start of last season. His QBR ranks third in the NFC, ahead of even Rodgers, but only the Green Bay quarterback got a Pro Bowl nod.
Cousins has thrown for 10 touchdowns against just one interception at home this season, compiling a passer rating of 126.0.
It absolutely would be nice to hold serve in a favorite’s role, so maybe the fact there isn’t any real pressure on this one will allow them to do just that. The NFL’s seventh-leading rusher, All-Pro Dalvin Cook, will be resting an ailing shoulder, which is another example of the Vikings looking ahead and treating this one as just another game. Despite the announcement that second-year back Mike Boone and rookie Alexander Mattison would get the carries in place of Cook, the number barely budged.
Despite this being Cousins vs. Rodgers, the Vikings are favored by more than most would probably have expected. In fact, the line opened at 4 and was been bet up to 5.5 points before coming down in some spots. More on that below. 1
Reverse line movement would be one reason to bet against Rodgers in a game where the Packers actually need the game more. If Green Bay pulls off an upset in Minneapolis and wins at Detroit, they have a shot at a first-round bye. Rodgers hasn’t had his most prolific season, but he’s still on pace to top 4,000 passing yards and has 24 TD passes against just two interceptions after sporting a 25/2 TD/INT ratio a season ago.
Aaron Jones is tied for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns with 14 and ranks second behind Panthers’ star Christian McCaffrey with 17 total scores. Top receiver Davante Adams comes off his fourth 100-yard game of the season and first since Nov. 10. He’s found the end zone four times over the last four games and is clearly over the nagging turf toe injury that compromised most of his season. His 39 TD receptions since the beginning of 2016 leads the NFL.
The Vikings have seen WR Stefon Diggs score in six straight games against Green Bay, while Adam Thielen has made 48 catches and scored four times in his last six games against the Packers. He’s healthy again after a hamstring injury stunted his momentum in October. With Cook sidelined, Minnesota may choose to air it out more against a Packers’ defense that ranks 22nd against the pass. For that reason, riding any props with Diggs or Thielen is advisable here.
Oddsmakers sent out an opening total of 46 on this matchup and as of Monday morning, the total has moved up to 47 at most sportsbooks. Chris David of VegasInsider.com offered up his thoughts on the final MNF contest of the season.
“This isn’t an easy game to handicap since both clubs have clinched playoff berths and even if Minnesota wins, the odds of taking the division will come down to Detroit beating Green Bay at home next week as a heavy underdog,” said David. “I don’t see that happening and it appears that the Vikings are going to be the fifth or sixth seed in the playoffs, possibly a 12-win team too and that’s crazy but parity has been thrown out the window in the NFL this season.
“This series has watched the ‘under’ go 8-2 the last 10 meetings and that includes the result in Week 2 at Lambeau Field. The total on that game was 43 and the rematch has been juiced up, which sets off some alarms for me but the Packers enter this game on a 5-1 run to the ‘under’ and the offense has been very pedestrian (19.6 PPG) during this span. Expecting the attack to bust out against Minnesota seems foolish knowing the Vikings are ranked second in scoring defense (14.2 PPG) at home this season. Make a note that Minnesota has only faced one winning team at home, and it blasted Philadelphia 38-20 in Week 6. I expect a Vikings victory and if that happens, the defense should carry them. With that being said, I’d lean to the Packers Team Total Under (20 ½) here.”
Green Bay has watched the ‘under’ go 8-6 this season, which includes a 3-3 mark outside of Wisconsin. The offense has been inconsistent, looking great at Kansas City (31) and Dallas (34) but also embarrassing efforts at San Francisco (8) and the L.A. Chargers (11) cannot be forgotten. The Packers have scored 17, 10 and 14 points in their last three trips to Minnesota.
In David’s weekly total segment on the VI “Bet and Collect” podcast, he often hits on seasonal angles and total systems that have produced profits and this game hits on one popular angle. Listen to the podcast here.
Green Bay Packers
Projected season win total: 9 (Over -140, Under +120)
Odds to win NFC North (pre-Week 1/current): 9/4 to 1/9
Odds to win NFC (pre-Week 1/current): 9/1 to 7/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 20/1 to 14/1
Projected season win total: 9 (Over -125, Under +105)
Odds to win NFC North (pre-Week 1/current): 2/1 to 6/1
Odds to win NFC (pre-Week 1/current): 9/1 to 9/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 20/1 to 20/1
Caesars' Senior Oddsmaker Alan Berg provides insights from behind the counter.
"A sharp player laid 4 and 4.5 with the Vikings so we sat at 5.5 where we finally saw a little resistance to the Vikings" said Berg, whose terrific observations can be found on Twitter at @PercentBerg. "Nothing had come in to get us to come down again but a sharp guy took the 5.5 late Sunday. We have sharp support both ways now."
With Cook sidelined, all eyes turn to Boone and Mattison. The latter, a rookie from Boise State who has been impressive when he’s gotten carries, is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out at the beginning of the week. He was limited in participating on Saturday and carries a ‘questionable’ tag. Minnesota’s offense is in fantastic shape otherwise. Defensively, DT Linval Joseph (knee), DT Shamar Stephen (knee), corner Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and safety Jayvon Kearse (toe) are all expected to play.
The Packers have only ruled out backup tackle Josh Nijaman (triceps). Starting tackle Bryan Bulaga, often the key to that offensive line, is good to go. Reserve lineman Alex Light (illness) should be available, as should tight ends Jimmy Graham (wrist/groin) and Marcedes Lewis. Linebacker Blake Martinez, whose 140 tackles lead the NFL, is good to go despite calf and hand ailments. Corners Kevin King and Tramon Williams are also set to participate.
(Packers 13-6-2 SU, 11-8 ATS last 19, UNDER 10-9)
9/15/19 Packers 21-16 vs. Vikings (GB -3, 43)
11/25/18 Vikings 24-17 vs. Packers (MIN -3.5, 48)
9/16/18 Vikings 29-29 OT at Packers (GB +2, 45)
12/23/17 Vikings 16-0 at Packers (MIN -8.5, 41)
10/15/17 Vikings 23-10 vs. Packers (MIN +3, 46)
12/24/16 Packers 38-25 vs. Vikings (GB -6, 44.5)
9/18/16 Vikings 17-14 vs. Packers (MIN +1.5, 43)
1/3/16 Vikings 20-13 at Packers (MIN +3, 45.5)
11/22/15 Packers 30-13 at Vikings (GB +1, 44)
11/23/14 Packers 24-21 at Vikings (MIN +7.5, 50)
10/2/14 Packers 42-10 vs. Vikings (GB -7.5, 47.5)
11/24/13 Packers 26-26 OT vs. Vikings (MIN +5.5, 44.5)
10/27/13 Packers 44-31 at Vikings (GB -7.5, 47.5)
12/30/12 Vikings 37-34 vs. Packers (GB -3, 46)
12/2/12 Packers 23-14 vs. Vikings (GB -7.5, 47)
11/14/11 Packers 45-7 vs. Vikings (GB -13, 50)
10/23/11 Packers 33-27 at Vikings (MIN +11, 47)
11/21/10 Packers 31-3 at Vikings (GB -3, 45)
10/24/10 Packers 28-24 vs. Vikings (GB -2.5, 44.5)
NEXT WEEK'S NUMBERS POSTED
The Westgate opens its advance lines for the following week on Tuesdays and Week 17 currently has the Packers as an 10-point home favorite over the Lions despite being on the road. The Vikes welcome in the Bears and have been installed as a 7-point favorite.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA