The final game of the penultimate week of the 2019 NFL regular season is upon us and it’s a big one as tonight’s Monday Night Football sees the (12-3) Green Bay Packers take on the (10-4) Minnesota Vikings (8:15 PM ET Monday on ESPN).
On the line is the NFC North divisional title as well as playoff positioning. A win by the Vikings would secure them a postseason berth and keeps their chance at winning the NFC North alive. Victory by the Packers sees them win the NFC North for the first time since 2016, while also keeping them in great position for the NFC’s top seed.
’Twas the night before, the night before Christmas and in the final Monday Night Football game of the season, the NFC playoff picture could see all kinds of changes. Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s look at this matchup and what we could be likely to see tonight when these two divisional rivals go head-to-head for the second and final time this regular season. Here is our preview followed by our Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings predictions against the top ranked United States’ oddsmakers.
Last Time Green Bay Packers & Minnesota Vikings Played
It was back in week two of the NFL season on September 15th, when the Green Bay Packers hosted the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Both teams had won their week one games so were 1-0 coming into this game, tied atop the division, last won by the Chicago Bears in 2018. While the final score was close, it wasn’t a great game for the Vikings’ million dollar man as Kirk Cousins struggled, tossing just one touchdown and two interceptions. His counterpart however, a man who is certainly in MVP contention, Aaron Rodgers, put forth a Rodgers-esque game, committing no turnovers and very little mistakes.
On the ground, Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook outrushed Green Bay’s Aaron Jones, though both men did score a touchdown and top the 100-yard mark. On the year, Jones and Cook have been two of the NFC’s top rushers no doubt. It’s a shame there won’t be a repeat of that particular matchup as earlier this week, Cook was ruled out of today’s game with an injury he sustained last week. There is talk Cook may be likely shut down for the rest of the regular season, perhaps even the playoffs. That doesn’t bode well for the Vikings as aside from their defense, Cook has really been the guy this year. The 24-year-old has 13 touchdowns and 1,135 yards on the year as well as five individual 100+ yard rushing performances. Not to mention his involvement in the passing game where Cook has nine games of catching passes for at least 30 yards. In seven of those games, he has been targeted by Cousins for at least five times.
Without Cook, Cousins will have to be creative and look elsewhere. Fortunately for him, Vikings’ top receiver and one of the best in the NFL period, Adam Thielen, is likely to play tonight after missing the past couple of weeks with an injury. Having Thielen back as well as Stefon Diggs, really opens up the deep threat that Minnesota will need to win without being able to rely on their running game. If Cousins can make the throws, he has got the guys who can win the matchups down the field.
Rodgers will have the full complement of his weapons including Jones and receiver Davante Adams, who has four games this season (of the 10 he’s played), with 100+ yard receiving performances. He has been Rodgers’ go-to guy no doubt as Adams has been targeted in double digits in six of his last seven games. He’s been an extremely reliable option as has Jones, who is tied for first in the NFL in touchdowns by a running back with 14.
Much like Cook for the Vikings, Jones is used in both the passing and running games by the Packers. He has three 100+ yard games on the ground and another through the air. He is also an incredibly sure-handed ball carrier as Jones has just two fumbles and only one lost on the season. That going along with Rodgers’ just two interceptions (a league best), puts the Packers right behind the New England Patriots for the second best turnover differential in the NFL.
Green Bay, in 14 games, has committed just nine turnovers, which is second best to the New Orleans Saints, who have eight. Their defense has forced 23 turnovers. As the NFL adage goes, the best way to win the game is to hold onto the ball. The Packers have done that marvelously in 2019, which explains why they are looking for their 13th win tonight.
Our Betting Preview’s Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings Betting Predictions & Picks Verdict
After a stop in Los Angeles to take on the Chargers, the Minnesota Vikings are headed back home where they are 6-0 on the season. Now, how much does that really mean given the caliber of opponents the Vikings have played at home versus on the road? I wouldn’t put too much stock in it, though that said, home field advantage does make a difference. Whether it’s the screaming crowds or being able to sleep in your own bed the night before the game, home sweet home really means as it says.
So taking that into consideration probably explains why the Vikings are somewhat strong favorites in this one. The sportsbooks have them at -4.5 or -5 points over the Packers, who haven’t won in Minnesota since 2015. That’s a slight move in the line, which opened with Minnesota as five point favorites. Even with the announcement of Cook missing the game, the line moved negligibly.
It’s a tough call. The Vikings and Packers have split their season series’ more often than one team has won both games in recent memory. Heading into this one, I really like Rodgers’ prolific and high-powered offense but Minnesota’s defense is no slouch either. In fact, defensive end Danielle Hunter, who has five sacks in his last three games and 13.5 on the season, is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. Rodgers doesn’t get sacked often as he is a top notch mobile quarterback, but that could be something to look out for. So these are the Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings predictions for this preview: