Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings: Predictions and Odds (NFL Week 16)
The Green Men of WSN’s Picks and Best Bets Podcast are split – Adam predicts the Packers will win but Ryan believes in the Vikings for this one. My prediction for the final score is Vikings 24 Packers 22.
How to Watch: Packers vs Vikings
What: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
When: Monday Night Football, December 23 at 8:15 pm ET
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota
How (TV): ESPN
Packers vs Vikings – Point Spread
Packers +5.5, Vikings -5.5
Green Bay vs Minnesota – Game Preview
This final Monday Night Football telecast of the 2019 NFL season between the 11-3 Green Bay Packers and the 10-4 Minnesota Vikings could easily be the game of the week since the teams are evenly matched and it could decide who wins the NFC North division and which playoff seed each of these two talented teams receives.
The Packers are feeling confident atop the NFC North, fresh off their narrow win over the Chicago Bears last Thursday night, 10-3, whereas the Vikings made easy work of the fizzling Los Angeles Chargers, stomping them 39-10 in Week 16, intercepting Philip Rivers 3 times in that one.
On the surface, Green Bay and Minnesota look evenly matched on both sides of the ball, but one of these teams is far better against the run, and that could prove to be the difference in this one, so here we take a look at how they match up for this final MNF telecast of the season.
Check out how your favorite team is doing this week, head to NFL Week 16 Power Rankings.
The 11-3-0 Green Bay Packers
How fun was it to watch Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hook up with star receiver Davante Adams 7 times last week against the Chicago Bears for 103 total yards and a touchdown plus the win, a sign that this partnership is ready to take things to the next level, like the postseason.
When Rodgers plays well, the Packers do, too, and right now he has a stats line that most teams would kill for – he’s thrown for yards for 24 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 100.4 – now if only that same guy can keep showing up for the rest of this 2019-20 run.
Speaking of showing up, Green Bay’s 23rd ranked defense needs to be more present on Monday night if they are going to beat the Vikings this late in the season, as in getting after Kirk Cousins and covering his receivers so tight he just has to throw the ball away.
The 10-4-0 Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins is playing considerably better than he was when the Green Bay Packers beat his team in Week 2 (remember, he threw 2 interceptions and had a 52.9 passer rating in that game), with his current 111.1 QB rating and his 70+ completion percentage both ranking 3rd in the league right now.
A big concern in Minneapolis is with running back Dalvin Cook’s chest injury that has him questionable for this one (see below), which is even more unfortunate given how weak the Packers have been against the run this season (ranked 24th), with a healthy Cook taking 20 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown in their Week 2 win over Green Bay.
The Vikings’ defense is ranked in the bottom half of the league, but they are effective enough at times (16 interceptions, 41 quarterback sacks) to keep opponents off the scoreboard and off the field, but making that happen against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers won’t be easy.
Packers vs Vikings – History
These two NFC North rivals have met 118 total times (including 2 postseason games), with Green Bay winning 61 of those times and Minnesota winning 54 games along with 3 ties.
The last time these two teams played was earlier this season, in September, Week 2, when the Packers beat the Vikings in Green Bay by a score of 21-16.
If the Packers win this matchup, they’ll move to 12-3-0, clinch the NFC North and remain the projected 2nd NFC playoff seed, assuming the number one seeded Seahawks keep winning.
But if the Vikings come out winners in this one, they’ll be 11-4-0 but still be in second place of the NFC North (Green Bay has a better divisional record at this point) and the projected 6th NFC seed in the playoffs.
Questions to Answer
Who’s favored to win this Week 16 Packers-Vikings matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Packers and the Vikings next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Offensive Stats Comparison
Green Bay Packers Overall Offense
- Ranked 21st overall in 2019
- Passing attack currently ranked 17th
- Rushing attack currently ranked 17th
For a team ranked so low on offense, the Green Bay Packers can put a decent amount of points on the board, averaging almost 24 per game, a byproduct of having Aaron Rodgers under center, the 11th most productive quarterback in the league right now with almost 3,500 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and just 2 interceptions all season.
Running back Aaron Jones is having himself a respectable season so far, right now with 188 carries for 830 yards and 14 touchdowns (tied for most in the league), currently averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
One of Rodgers’ passing targets this season has been tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught 3 touchdown receptions so far this season, but he is listed as questionable with a wrist injury and is a game-time decision.
Minnesota Vikings Overall Offense
- Ranked 10th overall in 2019
- Passing attack currently ranked 12th
- Rushing attack currently ranked 4th
The Vikings have a top-10 quarterback right now, with Kirk Cousins having a terrific season completing over 70 percent of his passes for almost 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns with 5 interceptions.
Injuries have been a factor on offense in Minnesota, with star wide receiver Adam Thielen missing some time earlier in the season with a hamstring injury, which shifted the spotlight to Stefon Diggs, who has stepped up and caught 60 passes for over 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns, T-8th best among NFL receivers.
Another more recent injury concern is how healthy running back Dalvin Cook will be by game time in Week 16, currently listed as questionable due to a chest injury that happened in Week 10, his production obviously limited ever since.
The Minnesota Vikings have the more effective offense right now, so if they’re healthy, they have the offensive advantage in this one, but that’s a big IF considering how banged up (and quiet) Cook has been lately and against Aaron Rodgers, that advantage could shift at any moment.
Defensive Stats Comparison
Green Bay Packers Overall Defense
- Ranked 23rd overall in 2019
- Passing defense currently ranked 22nd
- Rushing defense currently ranked 24th
The Green Bay defense won’t completely shut a team down, but coordinator Mike Pettine’s group has kept opponents to about 20 points per game, which has not been too difficult for Rodgers’ offense to outscore (in fact, they have done it eleven times so far this season).
One of the best things that happened to the Packers’ D was acquiring the Smith Brothers (no relation), both outside linebackers, Preston Smith with 11.5 sacks this season and Za’Darius Smith with 10.0, the thought of which must be keeping Kirk Cousins awake at night this week.
Two key defensive playmakers are listed as questionable for this one – defensive end Dean Lowry (ankle) and linebacker Blake Martinez (hand) – and both will be game-time decisions and big losses if they cannot go.
Minnesota Vikings Overall Defense
- Ranked 14th overall in 2019
- Passing defense currently ranked 20th
- Rushing defense currently ranked 8th
The Minnesota Vikings are better against the run than they are against the pass, but Aaron Rodgers had best not let that get him lazy since the Vikings are perfectly capable of picking off his passes (they have 16 total interceptions) and they can certainly sack a quarterback (they have 41 total sacks in 2019, T-9th most in the league).
The guy whose name has been called all season in Minnesota is defensive end Danielle Hunter, who is a beast off the line with 13.5 sacks (T-3rd most in the NFL) and 21 quarterback hits, 3 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 65 total tackles (14 of those for a loss).
The Vikings will have to play the Packers without linebacker Ben Gedeon, who is listed as being on injured reserve due to a concussion, and unfortunately, it looks like he may be out for the rest of the season as a result.
These two teams are about evenly matched on defense (and neither is exceptional on that side of the ball) but because the Vikings are far better against the run than the Packers are, they will have a slight defensive advantage on Monday night.
Packers vs Vikings – Final Game Analysis
Why Will the Packers Win this Game?
If Aaron Rodgers the eventual Hall of Fame quarterback shows up on Monday night, the Packers can win this game, but if the Aaron Rodgers who completed less than 50 percent of his passes against the Chicago Bears last week shows up, this could be anyone’s matchup.
Be a great game for running back Aaron Jones to break out with some big numbers – especially given how good the Vikings are against the run – because if he can keep the Vikings’ defense busy in the box, Rodgers can start having some passing fun halfway down the field.
Here’s an interesting factoid in Green Bay’s favor – Cousins might be undefeated at home this season (6-0), but he has never won on Monday Night Football (he’s 0-8 throughout his career on MNF), so for Green Bay to win, it might be as easy as just letting Cousins lose it the way he has been doing.
Why Will the Vikings Win this Game?
Cousins has proven that his reputation for failing in the big games, especially the nationally televised ones like on Monday night, is wrong – what better way to make that point than to win his team’s most important game of the season on the last Monday Night Football telecast of the year.
Dalvin Cook must show up healthy enough to play effectively if Minnesota has any chance to win this one, because if it’s another wounded outing like he had last week against the Chargers (9 carries for 27 yards and no touchdowns plus 3 catches for 16 yards and no touchdowns) it might put too much pressure on the team’s passing attack to succeed.
This is a home game, and this season the Vikings are undefeated in front of their own fans, so why should this one be any different, especially because a win over these Packers is the only way this team is going to have a chance to win the NFC North.
Packers vs Vikings – Who Will Win?
Even if Dalvin Cook doesn’t take a single carry (and he may actually play), this Minnesota Vikings’ team will beat the Green Bay Packers with their superior passing game and defense, and Cousins will finally break his Monday Night Football jinx by posting the win.
The Green Men of WSN’s Picks and Best Bets Podcast are split – Adam predicts the Packers will win but Ryan believes in the Vikings for this one.
My prediction for the final score is Vikings 24 Packers 22.
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Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings Game Odds