It’s only week two of the NFL season and yet the schedule is already heating up with some great matchups including the divisional clash between the (1-0) Green Bay Packers and (1-0) Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night (8.30pm ET on NBC).
Week one saw both the Packers and Vikings pick up wins. Although, one of those teams had an easier go at it than the other and it’s probably not the one you would think. Against the Tennessee Titans, despite not having Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings won with defense and special teams, scoring all of their touchdowns away from the offensive side of the ball.
In fact, the only real scoring done by Minnesota’s offense was off the leg of Blair Walsh, who was successful on four of six field goal attempts and responsible for 13 of the team’s 25 points. All of those were scored in the second half of the game.
Green Bay meanwhile was pushed to its limit as the Jacksonville Jaguars gave one of the favorites to win the NFC Championship everything they could handle.
At the end of the day a win is a win but both teams would have liked to have played a little better. Tennessee and Jacksonville aren’t exactly top notch opponents and what these two will face on Sunday in their NFC North head-to-head will be that much more of a challenge.
(GB) Eddie Lacy vs (MIN) Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson (pictured) is not that far removed from being the absolute best running back in the NFL and one who challenged for Eric Dickerson’s record for most yards in a single season. But behind a QB whose job is little more than that of a game manager, Peterson’s production severely suffered. The veteran running back managed just 31 yards on 19 rushing attempts against a Titans defense which just a year ago was 18th in the NFL, allowing over 112 yards per game to opposing rushers.
On the other hand, Peterson’s counterpart Eddie Lacy, made the most of his limited attempts, rushing for 61 yards on 14 carries, an average of 4.4 yards per touch. Lacy was able to work through a less than staunch Jacksonville defense and really help the Packers maintain the edge in field position, something that ultimately helped the team win. The game was closer than it should have been but Lacy was definitely a bright spot among Green Bay’s offense.
It’s obviously very early given as just one game has been played, but in that contest the Packers allowed a meagre 48 yards rushing to Jacksonville. Their rushing defense was the best in the league last week and Peterson will have to find a way around that if the Vikings hope to win. Unfortunately for the 31-year-old who used to own his rival, the Packers have been a bit of kryptonite recently. In two games last season, Peterson totaled 112 yards on 32 attempts.
Lacy doesn’t have an easy task either if game one is any indication. The Vikings have the fourth best rushing defense and in the final game of last season held Lacy to just 34 yards on 13 attempts. However, like Peterson, Lacy has otherwise owned the Vikings, rushing for over 90 yards every other time he has faced Minnesota in his career. If this game comes down to the rushers then our preview’s prediction is that the advantage goes to Lacy.
(GB) Aaron Rodgers vs (MIN) Sam Bradford
Leading the offense on the passing side of the ball for Green Bay is of course Aaron Rodgers, a multiple time MVP and one of the best quarterbacks in the game today. However, in his first game of the year, Rodgers looked pedestrian, at least by his standards, throwing for just 199 yards, marking only the fourth time in the last two seasons that he has thrown for under 200. He did rush for a touchdown and throw two more through the air, most importantly one of which went to Jordy Nelson.
The Packers and Rodgers both really suffered last year without the services of their top receiver as the team finished ranked just 23rd in total offense and 25th in passing offense. This was the worst finish of Rodgers’ career. Nelson being able to come back and make an impact right away has to be relieving for the Packers. After missing a year, Nelson led Green Bay in targets and receptions in that first game. Most of the passes were short but Nelson is being eased back into the offense and could expect larger production on Sunday against a defense which is ranked 16th in the NFL in opposing passing yards.
Green Bay’s own passing defense leaves much to be desired ranked just 23rd, but they also are facing a QB matchup that favors them greatly. After Shaun Hill made the start in game one and managed to not score a single point on the offensive side of the ball, it is expected that Sam Bradford will be the one leading the offense on Sunday. He took the majority of the first team snaps in practice and his acquisition right before the season was for this purpose, for him to be the full-time starter in Bridgewater’s absence.
Bradford is going to have a tough task ahead of him as this Minnesota offense left much to be desired in the first game. They will, as I mentioned in this preview earlier, absolutely need to get Peterson going, but more than that they will need to find a way to exploit the weak cover corners of the Packers.
Bradford is a former first overall pick and rookie of the year but injuries have plagued him throughout his career. He showed spurts with the Philadelphia Eagles of being that franchise player but never quite delivered on that potential. He’ll have a fresh start in Minnesota though and all eyes are on him to see if he can turn this so far inept offense (27th in total yards) into a productive unit.
Again though, if one team has an advantage, it’s definitely the Packers.
Our Preview’s Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings Picks
Minnesota played fantastically on defense and special teams last week, but their inability to get into the end zone on offense has to be concerning. Defensive touchdowns are rare and that’s something you can’t rely on every week. The Vikings, who last year won the NFC North, will have to find a way to get something going. They are hoping Bradford will be that guy but there are no guarantees that they’ll be able to get the job done against a Green Bay offense which could explode at any time.
That’s what you worry about when you take on Rodgers and the Packers. They are loaded with weapons and in the past have been able to use them incredibly successfully, especially against Minnesota.
So here are our preview’s betting picks’ predictions:
- The best American offshore sportsbooks vary between a two to three point spread, with the Packers as favorites. Our advised pick is to bet on the Packers -2pts @ -110 odds with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -2.5pts with 5Dimes for the same odds, while Bovada go -3pts at -105.
- As for the total points scored in the game, for which our preview’s picks this season have a 100% record, our prediction is to take the over 43pts with 5Dimes or BetOnline @ -110 (it is over 43.5pts with Bovada). Expect a big game from the road favorites.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.