Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Date and Time: Sunday, September 18, 2016, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Week 2 NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Packers -2.5, O/U 45
Packers vs. Vikings TV Coverage: NBC
Thanks to a pair of defensive scores the Vikings’ opening-day win looked a little more comfortable than it actually was. The game was further proof that Sam Bradford needs to speed up his learning curve on the new playbook. Mike Zimmer gambled that his team could get past the Tennessee Titans with Shaun Hill as the starting quarterback. It paid off, but it wasn’t without some tense moments. And Hill proved he’s not the guy to be leading a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.
Hill didn’t turn the ball over. He also didn’t lead any touchdown drives and the Vikings’ defense produced more points than their offense. Hill threw for 236 yards but completed just 54.5 percent of his passes. Bradford has had a few weeks to learn the offense and for the Vikings sake, he better be ready come Sunday because the Packers are a little more potent than the Titans.
Green Bay’s run of NFC North titles was ended by the Vikings last season in a surprising loss to close out the year. Minnesota posted a 20-13 win at Lambeau in the regular season finale, ending the Pack’s four-year run atop the division. That loss was just the second Green Bay suffered to Vikes since the 2010 season. Over that time the Packers are 10-2-1 SU and 8-5 ATS. Each of the last three games played below the scoreline.
Matchup To Watch
Green Bay’s aerial attack wasn’t flying high last season with part of the blame attributed to the loss of Jordy Nelson, who missed the entire year after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. Nelson is back and the offense should rise from the weak levels it was at last year. It just might take some time. Playing together for the first time in over a year, Aaron Rodgers and Nelson hooked up on a touchdown pass in the Pack’s 27-23 win at Jacksonville in the opener. Nelson didn’t run any deep routes last week as he chiseled the rust off his reconstructed knee and he had just 32 yards on six catches. But that’s 32 more yards than he had all of last season when the Packers ranked 25th in pass offense.
To get an idea of how much Nelson means to Rodgers and the passing game, Green Bay finished eighth in the league with 266 yards per game in 2014, nearly 50 yards per game more than what it had last year. The offense isn’t near where it was two years ago, but the potential to be as good or even better exists.
Of course Rodgers is slinging the ball downfield and Nelson will work his way back into the form that saw him rank second in touchdown receptions, fourth in receiving yards and seventh in catches before his injury. With Randall Cobb and Davante Adams flanking Nelson, along with a big, fast target in tight end Jared Cook and a healthy offensive line, the Packers have the pieces to once again own a formidable passing attack.
Packers vs. Vikings Free Picks
Given the state of the Vikings quarterback situation, the Packers opened as a 2.5-point road favorite. Minnesota hasn’t officially named a starter for the Sunday night matchup, but the Vikes didn’t trade away a No. 1 pick to have Bradford as the backup. Whoever starts will be in a tough spot. Hill got the nod last weekend and he didn’t exactly lead the team to a victory. Bradford has been with club less than two weeks and is still learning the offense.
And the Packers aren’t the Titans, which makes Zimmer’s decision on a starter that much more difficult. Minnesota won its opener thanks a pair of defensive scores and the unit actually outscored the offense. Don’t expect Rodgers and the Pack to make the same mistakes, leaving the outcome up to the offense. Hill isn’t a starter and Bradford isn’t ready. Whoever plays will end up making a mistake that will prove costly. Check the odds at BookMaker.eu and go with the Pack to cover the line.
Packers vs. Vikings Week 2 ATS Pick: Packers -2.5 at BookMaker.eu
Packers vs. Vikings Score Prediction: Packers 24, Vikings 18