Thursday Night Football:
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Preview and Prediction

 

Thursday Night Football
Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-2)
8:25 pm ET, October 2, 2014
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Airs on CBS and NFL Network
Packers favored by 8½

 

Minnesota Defense versus Green Bay Offense

Last week against Chicago the Packers scored on each of their first six possessions, as Aaron Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Randall Cobb caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Jordy Nelson had ten receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns as well. Green Bay does not run the ball well – Eddy Lacy is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry – but that doesn’t really matter with a Packers passing game that ic clicking on all cylinders.

Green Bay Defense versus Minnesota Offense

The Packers are allowing a whopping 176 yards rushing per game, which is nearly twenty more yards than other other club. This is the Vikings strength, and their best hope to win this game. Minnesota averages 135 yards rushing per game (6th) and 4.6 yards per carry (8th), with the thunder of 234 pound Matt Asiota (270 yards from scrimmage, four touchdowns) and the lightning of third-down back Jerrick McKinnon (152 yards from scrimmage on 18 carries and one reception last week). If Green Bay stacks the box to stop the run, that leaves Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings out wide – though if it’s Christian Ponder passing the football, that may no be a bad strategy.

Special Teams and Intangibles

Football Outsiders ranks Green Bay’s special teams 5th (+2.1%) while Minnesota is 12th (+1.4%). The Packers do better on punt returns (allowing a net of 40.6 per punt, versus 43.0 for the Vikings), but that’s pretty much a wash. Two other factors to consider though: first, the weather. It is expected to rain, and Aaron Rodgers plays well in cold or snow, but rain effects him more than it does most quarterbacks. Second is the short week for a road team on Thursday night; even though this is a short trip, Thursday night games historically favor the home team by far more than the standard three-point spread. Third, both teams are coming off much needed, big dramatic victories. The Packers are used to winning big games, and therefore are less likely to suffer as much of a letdown than the Vikings (who are coming off a five-win season) are.

Injuries
Starters or players that receive significant snaps are in bold.

Minnesota Vikings
OUT
TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin)
LB Chad Greenway (hand/rib)

QUESTIONABLE
QB Teddy Bridgewater (ankle)

PROBABLE
FB Jerome Felton (knee)
CB Captain Munnerlyn (illness)
RB Jerrick McKinnon (ankle)
CB Josh Robinson (hamstring)
LB Michael Mauti (foot)
WR Rodney Smith (hamstring)
LB Brandon Watts (knee)

Green Bay Packers
OUT
WR Jarrett Boykin (groin)

DOUBTFUL
LB Sam Barrington (hamstring)
DT Josh Boyd (knee)

PROBABLE
LB Brad Jones (quadriceps)
RG T.J. Lang (not injury-related)
OLB Clay Matthews (groin)
OLB Mike Neal (hip)

Prediction

Football is the ultimate team sport, but if Christian Ponder has to be the Minnesota quarterback, then I’m placing all my chips on Aaron Rodgers. Even if Bridgewater does go, he’ll be less than 100 percent. Despite Rodgers’ past struggles in wet weather, I’m going with Green Bay to win and cover a relatively large spread; Minnesota will be denied their third upset of the season.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Pick • Packers 27, Vikings 13
Packers -8½ (four units)
under 47½

 

College Football

Kent State at Northern Illinois
343 Pick • under 59 (one unit)

Wisconsin at Northwestern
345 Pick • under 47½ (one unit)
346 Pick • Northwestern +8½ (one unit)

Texas Tech at Kansas State
359 Pick • Kansas State -13 (one unit)

Tulsa at Oklahoma State
363 Pick • under 63 (one unit)

Stanford at Notre Dame
367 Pick • Stanford -1½ (one unit)

Louisiana State at Auburn
372 Pick • Auburn +8 (one unit)

Florida at Tennessee
377 Pick • Florida +2 (zero units)

Baylor at Texas
379 Pick • Baylor -14½ (one unit)
380 Pick • over 57½ (one unit)

Alabama at Mississippi
384 Pick • Ole Miss +6 (zero units)

Two-Team Teaser (two units)
Packers (-2½) and Northwestern (+14½)

Two-Team Parlay (two units)
Packers (-8½) and Baylor (-14½)

 

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