At 7-4 it may seem a little amusing to be questioning the potential of the Green Bay Packers. However, with their sloppy undisciplined play of late, coupled with injuries, the Packers have been a mediocre squad of late. The games they have won, besides the Texans victory, haven’t exactly been done in Packers fashion either. They have been games that have tested them to the final buzzer. Their latest hiccup came last week against the New York Giants on the road. It was actually quite embarrassing really, as the Packers got shellacked 38-10 on SNF. Other than the long strike to Jordy Nelson early in the first quarter, the Packers did nothing of significance. The Vikings, while surprising a few people with their early season efforts have seemingly begun to slow down a tad. They started 4-1 but have only won two games since. They are still in the mix of things for a playoff spot at 6-5, so this is an important game for both squads.
While the Packers have hit a bump in the road, this is still a team that no one will want to play come playoff time. Part of the problems with the Packers is the amount of injuries they have had to endure. Jordy Nelson has become the number 1 target as Greg Jennings is sitting on the sidelines, and the running game has seen a rash of injuries. Most notably, running back Cedric Benson was placed on the IR early in the season and did not see much game action as a result of it. The backs that have replaced Benson have attempted to fill the void, but with the state of their offensive line it has been an absolute mess. The Giants feasted off of the Packers’ weak offense line Sunday night, totalling 5 sacks. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked confused and frustrated for the majority of the night appearing as if he called it quits after the first half. The defense is in shambles as well as the Packers started a number of rookies to fill the void on Sunday night.
In any case, the defense is expected to be bad, though. After all, they ranked in the back of the pack last season, and the year they won the Super Bowl they had a defense that ranked in the bottom 5. In fact, if going by the numbers, the defense has actually improved as they are the 18th best defense in the league, allowing 22.3 points per game and 348 yards. If you watched the Sunday night game they were anything but the 18th ranked unit in the NFL. They looked more like their 2010 and 2011 counterparts. The defense while it has held up this season, the injuries are going to be an area of concern as we press forward deeper into the year.
The offense has certainly been a surprise, however. As I alluded to earlier, Jennings has been absent for pretty much the entire season. He has only 78 yards on the season as of week 12. Nevertheless, it appears Jennings should finally be ready to go and suit up on Sunday against the Vikings. The Packers will welcome Jennings back with open arms for this one, as the passing game hasn’t clicked like it is capable of thus far this season. Just like the defense, the offense ranks 18th in terms of total team offense; with the passing game settling in a surprising 14th spot, averaging only 242.2 yards per game. The Packers offense will be up against a formidable defense, 14th, with some guys that know how to pressure the quarterback. This will be one of the key scenarios as the game goes forward, can the Packers’ offensive line hold up against the Vikings’ defense front?
The Vikings’ offense on the other hand has been hot-cold all season long. Even after 12 weeks, it is hard to label Christian Ponder as a potential franchise quarterback, or just a fill in for a future incumbent. The offense ranks 22nd in the NFL, averaging only 333.4 yards a game. The offense shines when running back Adrian Peterson gets on a roll, however. The 3rd best rushing attack in the league may have fun against the Packers’ banged up defense.
Vikings vs. Packers Spread and Betting Odds:
Minnesota Vikings +9 (-125)
@ Green Bay Packers -9 (+105)
Over 47 (-110)
Under 47 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Vikings vs. Packers Pick:
I think this line is a little inflated due to the fact that the Packers are coming off a demoralizing loss. The perception of many people is that the Packers will come out and fire on all cylinders and blow the doors off the Vikings. While it is certainly possible, the points are looking mighty impressive here. If the Packers offensive line looked like a NFL unit in any shape or form I would feel obliged to lay the points and take the Packers at home, but as they say games are won in the trenches.
Greg Jennings will be making his return to the Packers’ starting roster this week, and while that is a welcome sign for the Packers in the long run, I see him being a little rusty in his first game since week 1. Adrian Peterson should dictate the game and chew up enough yardage to keep the Vikings competitive in this game. I can’t lay that many points with an offensive line in shambles as the Packers are.
PICK = Vikings +9