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Saturday, October 26, 2013

NFL Preview 2013 Week 8: Packers vs Vikings

Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings

Market Watch

Before the Josh Freeman debacle against the Giants, the LVH set the Packers as -6.5 point favorites in the look-ahead line. After the smoke cleared on Week 7 play, sportsbooks reopened this game at -10.

By midweek, it was announced the Christian Ponder would replace Freeman at quarterback, and money has slowly come in on Minnesota ever since. You can now find this line as low as -8, but some shops are still keeping it out of the teaser window at -9.

75 percent of the bets are on Green Bay, but late money might continue to push this line down by kickoff.

What to watch for

Last season no other team had more man games lost due to injury than the Packers. In September, it looked like that trend would naturally regress to the mean, but since then we've seen starter after starter go down. For this game Aaron Rodgers will be without Jones, Cobb, and Finley. On defense, they still won't have Matthews.

Still, without a handful of play-makers, the Packers continue to roll. They've not only won their last three games, but they've also covered the point spread in all of them. Guys like Jarrett Boykin and Myles White stepped right in and produced.

Green Bay boast one of the top passing attacks and their near the top of the league in drive efficiency and third down conversion percentage. The one area that they don't rate high in is red zone conversions, where they sit near the middle of the pack.

The good news for Green Bay is that the Vikings defense is below average in every meaningful category. The big surprise might be their adjusted sack rate. Coming into the season this was supposed to be a strength, but they haven't gotten any production from their pass rush. On paper, this would have been one matchup where they could have disrupted Rodgers.

On the flip side, how are the Vikings going to put up points? Adrian Peterson isn't performing like he was last year and nobody can move the ball in the air, regardless of who is taking the snaps.

Making matters worse, the Green Bay secondary is beginning to find their groove. Davon House played the majority of the snaps last week  and allowed just two passes sent his way. Morgan Burnett has been a big boost to this unit too, not only against the pass, but also in run support.

The one glimmer of hope I see for Minnesota is in the red zone. The Packers defense ranks dead last in this area so far. If Minnesota can find a way to put some drives together, they just might be able to take advantage inside the 20.

Bottom Line

In reality, the only option I would consider here would be the Packers. The Vikings are just not a team that I want anything to do with right now. The running game or pass rush isn't where we thought it would be this season. If you don't like laying more than a touchdown, the recent line movement has made the Packers a great option to throw in a teaser.
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