Vikings vs. Packers: Betting Preview

Photo credit: Brad Rempel (USA TODAY Sports)

The famed rivalry between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers will be renewed this Sunday with a Week 1 matchup to kick off the 2020 NFL season at U.S. Bank Stadium.

For many, football returning includes the opportunity wager on the games, whether it be through fantasy football or other game modes. 2020 is such a unique year, of course, and fans will have almost no knowledge to work off prior to wagering on Week 1 games this season. No preseason games were played and information from training camp was harder to find than previous years.

The Vikings enter the 2020 season having lost perhaps their best offensive playmaker in Stefon Diggs. Plus, the team announced superstar defensive end Danielle Hunter has been placed in injured reserve with a neck injury, so Minnesota will be without two of their best performers from 2019 on Sunday.

Green Bay, meanwhile, comes off a 13-3 season and an NFC Championship appearance. The Packers didn’t dominate statistically the way most 13-3 teams do, so a regression is likely. However, the Packers are still a force to be reckoned with in the NFC.

Let’s get to the spread and the total points set for the game this week by DraftKings Sportsbook.

SPREAD: Vikings (-2.5), Packers (+2.5)

As of now, Minnesota is favored by two and a half points for Sunday’s game. This is likely a surprise to many football fans, and there’s a reason why that has already been bet down from three whole points. Green Bay handled Minnesota in both matchups last season in what were pretty ugly performances from the Vikings. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had arguably his two worst performances in what was otherwise his most efficient season as a pro.

Packers pass rushers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith wreaked havoc all game long in both matchups against the Vikings pass protection unit. Those rushers didn’t go anywhere and will once again be a factor this week.

Plus as mentioned before Diggs and Hunter will both not be suiting up for the purple and gold. Diggs, of course, was traded to Buffalo over the offseason, and Hunter is beginning the 2020 season on injured reserve. Diggs had been the most consistent Vikings player against the Packers over the past several years, finding the end zone at least once in every game he has played in against Green Bay since 2016. That type of production won’t be easy to replace.

Hunter, meanwhile, is a disruptor against any team. He and Everson Griffen teamed up as one of the best edge duos in football last season. Now, at least to begin 2020, neither of them will be on the field. Ifeadi Odenigbo and newly-acquired Yannick Ngakoue will take their places.

Given the key departures from the roster and the lack of success against the Packers in 2019, it’s surprising to see the Vikings favored in this matchup. Granted, sportsbooks generally give the home team a bump of three points to account for the home-field advantage, but is there a home-field advantage without fans in the stadium?

The best bet against the spread this week is the Packers, much to the chagrin of Vikings fans.

The Pick: Packers +2.5

Over/Under 45 points

The total points set by DraftKings Sportsbook for Sunday’s NFC North matchup is 45. Three straight games between the Vikings and Packers have finished with fewer than 45 total points scored, including both games last year. The poor performances from Minnesota’s offense, led by Cousins, was a key factor in each of them.

Meanwhile, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has not performed to the standards he set in his prime, particularly against the Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer. Rodgers was certainly not one of the deciding factors in either game last season, throwing for fewer than 210 yards in each matchup and topping out at just over six yards per attempt against the Vikings last season.

One additional note here is that looking for a Rodgers prop bet on passing yards this Sunday might be worthwhile. Some sportsbooks have player props released already, some don’t. But Rodgers’ passing yards totals in the past four games against Minnesota are 216, 209, 198 and 281. That prop number would likely be in the 230-250 range, in which case it might be worth taking the under.

The most recent high-scoring game between the Vikings and the Packers was the Week 2 matchup in 2018 — infamously known as the game that resulted in Daniel Carlson‘s release from the team — which wound up as a 29-29 tie. Since then, all three matchups have been defensive battles totaling 41, 37 and 33 points.

Neither of these offenses scream explosiveness, especially with the increased emphasis on the ground game from both squads in 2019. A defensive battle is more likely than a shootout.

The pick: Under 45 Points

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Photo credit: Brad Rempel (USA TODAY Sports)

If you limited yourself to selected areas of the box score without knowing the final score, you might think the Vikings offensive line acquitted itself well in the season opener. But breakdowns from the top on down — questionable decisions by the coaches, lack of communication between the experienced starters, and little from the unit's only new member — ultimately added up to a disheartening Week 1 loss.

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