SNF Week 17 Preview: Packers Take on Cousins-less Vikings at Lambeau
The Minnesota Vikings will travel to Green Bay tonight without QB Kirk Cousins (COVID-19) and clash with the Packers. They come in at a 7–8 record, and desperately need a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Packers have clinched the NFC North with a 12–3 record and currently boast the top seed in the NFC playoff picture. At face value, the Packers seem like the easy winner, but you would be mistaken to think so. The Vikings own credit for one of GB’s 3 losses this season in their matchup in week 11. The Packers defense gave up 31 points in that game, way higher than their average 21.6 points allowed per game. This will be a hard feat to repeat however, as the Vikings will be missing one of their key components at QB. Sean Mannion will be making the start in place of Cousins, who has not played a snap this season. Adam Thielen is also out for the remainder of this year after undergoing ankle surgery. RB Dalvin Cook and star second-year WR Justin Jefferson seem to be the only offensive weapons available for the Vikings. Cook has totaled 1067 yards this season and has reached the end zone 6 times this year. Justin Jefferson has replicated his success he saw in his rookie campaign, accumulating 1451 yards and 9 TDs this year. The Vikings have found success when feeding Jefferson, holding a 4–2 record whenever he goes for 100 yards or more, but it will be very difficult to do so without Kirk. Expect the Vikings to hand the ball off a lot tonight, with Cook and Alexander Mattison handling ground carries. I don’t expect the Vikings to score more than 17 points on Sunday night, and if they want to win, their defense is going to have to show up in place of the depleted Vikings offense.
The Packers will host Minnesota without any major injuries, star QB Aaron Rodgers was cleared from the injury report 2 days ago and is ready to compete. They are playing to maintain the #1 seed in the NFC, which would grant them a 1st-round bye in the playoffs. Rodgers has found his groove recently, throwing for at least 3 TDs in his last 3 games, and boasting at least a 130 passer rating in 2 of his last 3 games. Davante Adams has been Rodgers’ main weapon possessing 5 of Rodgers’ 10 TDs thrown in the 3-game time span. Aaron Jones will handle things on the ground, he averages 77 rushing yards per game in his career against the Vikings. This Green Bay offense really has found their form, averaging 33.4 PPG in their last 5 contests. The Packers defense ranks 13th in points allowed per game and 11th in passing yards allowed; they should have no issues containing the Vikings offense. While Green Bay lost the first time these two met this season, the Minnesota team from Week 11 is not the same as the one they will see tonight. The Packers offense will score at least 24, going against a Vikings defense ranked 23rd in PPG in the NFL.
At the time of publishing, Green Bay comes into this game favored by 13 points, and the O/U stands at 42. The Packers will have no problem handling the short-handed Vikings tonight. Aaron Rodgers has been on fire recently, and his main wideout Davante Adams has not disappointed. The offensive firepower they bring to the table will overrun the Minnesota defense, and with the Vikings missing Cousins and Thielen, they will not be able to keep up and run the score. I’d confidently say Green Bay will cover the spread of 13 points. The O/U is right at 42, making it hard to make a pick. If I had to, I’d go under because of the weather conditions making it even harder on the Vikings offense. Let’s see how this game plays out, hopefully I predicted correctly. I’ll be writing a recap of this game once it is done, so stay tuned for that.
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