The Minnesota Vikings will hope to play spoilers when they take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. The Vikings are keen to clinch one of the few wildcard sports in the NFC, but in order to do so, they must win out. Beating the Packers would not only ensure their playoff bid stays alive, but it might also derail their rivals’ bid to clinch the No.1 seed.
Bookmakers have opened this game with the Packers heavily favored at home to win outright. They’ve also pegged this game on a 6.5-point spread. However, the Vikings have won the last two games over the Packers, including a narrow victory earlier this season. With this rivalry clearly more competitive than the NFL odds would suggest, it raises the question of whether the books have it right.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, January 2, 2022- 8:20 PM EST at Lambeau Field
Packers Undefeated at Home
The Packers clinched their third-straight NFC North title under head coach Matt LaFleur last week, a feat that underscores his tenure in Green Bay in the best possible way. Simply put, since LaFleur took over the reins, the Packers have only known division supremacy.
For the second straight year, LaFleur has the Packers in contention for the top seed in the NFC. Green Bay has the inside track to the coveted top spot, which awards the recipient with a bye in the first round of the playoffs and home advantage throughout the rounds.
The Packers improved to a 12-4-0 record on the heels of a 24-22 win over the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field in Week 16. Although the final score was closer than the online sportsbooks had it – the Packers closed as the 7.5-point favorites at home – they got the all-important win. That’s all that matters in the broad spectrum of the NFC race.
The Dallas Cowboys (11-5-0) are giving the Packers a run for their money in the NFC. Should the Packers have stumbled in the last two games, the door would open for the Cowboys – and, ironically, former Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy – to traipse through.
The premium on this Week 17 clash couldn’t be any greater. The fact that it’s probably one of the toughest matchups for Aaron Rodgers and Co., only makes their upcoming Sunday Night Football showdown that much more fascinating. The last team to beat the Packers before they launched their latest winning run of form was Minnesota.
The Vikings beat the Packers 34-31 in Week 11 when the pair collided at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It was a close game and a pivotal, confidence-boosting win for Mike Zimmer’s side. It’s one thing to do it at home, another to do at Lambeau. The Packers are 7-0 SU at home – which is a league-best record that includes a 12-point winning margin on average.
Vikings Dangerous Floaters
Zimmer’s Vikings are notorious for being dangerous floaters, a team that others would most rather avoid and especially when there’s a lot at stake. At home, this has been certainly true this season – evinced best by their win over the Packers. On the road, however, the Vikings have had mixed results. Overall, the Vikings are 3-5-0 with a 0.5 losing margin on average and a +0.3 differential versus the spread.
Most recently, the Vikings succumbed to a 30-23 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at home. It was a crushing defeat that setback the Vikings and ended a two-game winning streak as Minnesota slipped to a 7-8-0 record. Going into the game, the Vikings had their destiny in their own hands.
Win their last three games and they would be assured a spot in the playoffs. The loss hasn’t eliminated Minnesota, but it does take away control. The Vikings have to now win out and hope for some help. They couldn’t have made the task tougher on themselves with a date against Green Bay in primetime NFL action next.
NFL Predictions and Picks
The Vikings were without Dalvin Cook last weekend. Cook roasted the Packers in their last clash between these division rivals as he scampered 22 times for 86 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 29 yards. Under the new NFL health and safety protocols revised this week, Cook, who is unvaccinated, is likely to be made available for Sunday’s clash so long as he clears any covid-19 tests.
The Vikings will be delighted to have Cook back as he’s the beating heart of the offense and a huge asset for Kirk Cousins. Cook’s return couldn’t come at a better time as Adam Thielen is out for the rest of the regular season after undergoing surgery on his ankle. Thielen is on the injured reserve list until the foreseeable future.
This is a must-win game for the Vikings. They absolutely need the win to get the best chance of squeaking into the playoffs. But it won’t be an easy or straightforward game. The more one thinks on it, as tempting as the Vikings might be as the 6.5 to 7-point road underdogs for NFL picks in point spread betting, it would be a longshot bet.
Put simply, color the world shocked if the Vikings sweep this series in primetime action, in front of a national audience on Sunday night, and on the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field where Green Bay’s faithful will be braving the cold and cheering their side on. Don’t see it happening. Not when the Packers are eyeing the No.1 seed in the NFC.
NFL Pick: Packers -6.5 (-110) with Caesars Sportsbook