Monday, December 24, 2012

NFL Predictions 2012 Week 17: Packers vs Vikings

Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings: GB -3 (5Dimes)

Markets

Last week, the look-ahead line for this game had the Packers at -4.5 point favorites.  Given the performance of the Vikings of late, combined with the fact that both teams have something to play for, the line re-opened at -3.  There is some added juice attached, so don't be shocked if this comes off the 3 at some point. I'm not about to pass up this value, regardless of how good Minnesota have looked.

No Mysteries

There are no secrets between these division rivals.  There will also be no guesswork with regards to rosters, playing time, or motivation.  Both teams have something to play for, so this will be one of the more entertaining games on the Week 17 schedule.

In the end, we could sit here and analyze all the X's and O's until we're blue in the face.  We could talk about how the Packers will likely have a 50/50 split between run and pass to overcome the Vikings cover 2 scheme. We could point out that GB will likely rely on their improved coverage in the secondary to go all out vs Peterson.

Yet, the Packers can still win this game even if Peterson has a big game. He killed them for 200+ yards the last time and they still lost.

What's more important will be the play of Christian Ponder.  I've said this before and got burned, but when it comes to playoff-type football, sooner or later the QB needs to make a play on a key third down, at the end of the half, or in the red zone.  His biggest task will be protecting the ball and making smart decisions with the football.  Is he ready to do this?  How much will the coaching staff limit him with so much on the line?  If the Vikings are too conservative, they might just coach themselves into a loss.

On defense, the Vikings will need to step up their pass rush and pile up more sacks on Rodgers.  His line has been woeful and he sits as the most sacked QB in the NFL.  Do this and they have a good chance to win.

Bottom Line

The formula for both teams is quite obvious.  If the Vikings can protect the ball, get a consistent game from Ponder, and get to Rodgers, they will make me sweat out this pick.  Instead, I expect this game to go according to script.  Ponder will make mistakes, Rodgers will make big plays, and the Packers will show more overall balance on both sides of the ball.  Sometimes it's just that simple.

NFL Pick: GB -3.