Minnesota (7-7) at Green Bay (8-6)
When: Saturday, December 24th 2016
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: FOX
Things have drastically changed since the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers met way back in Week 2. Minnesota edged the Packers 17-14 on their way to a 5-0 start and a team looking like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Fast forward to Week 16 and the Vikings have lost seven of their last nine games are were not competitive in last week’s 34-6 home loss to Indianapolis. Reaching the postseason is now very slim as the 7-7 Vikings have to leapfrog three teams in the final two weeks. Running back Adrian Peterson returned to the lineup for the first time since that Week 2 contest, but saw limited action (six carries, 22 yards) after Minnesota fell into a 27-point hole at halftime against Indianapolis. Peterson did not practice Wednesday due to knee/groin injuries and was unsure if he will be ready to play against Green Bay, saying he’s taking things “day by day.” Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who has been held to five receptions the past two weeks after hauling in 40 catches in the previous four games, also missed Wednesday’s practice with an ailing hip. Diggs had nine receptions for a career-best 182 yards and a TD in the Week 2 win over the Packers. Quarterback Sam Bradford has more than one TD pass in only three of 13 games, but one was against Green Bay in his season debut. Minnesota’s defense gave up 411 yards and allowed the Colts to hold the ball for 37 minutes last week.
Green Bay’s playoff chances seemed slim after a four-game losing streak put them at 4-6 and the defense couldn’t stop anyone. At 8-6, Green Bay now controls it’s own destiny to win the NFC North over Detroit with wins in the last two weeks, including the Lions in Week 17. Part of the reason for the defense’s turnaround is the play of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who intercepted a pair of passes in Sunday’s 30-27 victory at Chicago to earn NFL Defensive Player of the Week honors. After allowing 153 points during the four-game skid, Green Bay has held three of their last four opponents to 13 points or less. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has 10 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in the last five games, has thrown for 1,565 yards with 14 TDs and four interceptions in the last 10 home games versus Minnesota. Converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery has provided a spark to the stagnant run game, rushing for 162 yards and two touchdowns on only 16 carries while adding four catches for 57 yards last week in Chicago. Green Bay currently owns the last Wild Card spot, but Tampa Bay and Washington are on their heels.
Minnesota seems to have given up if you watched any of last week’s game against the Colts. The Packers are flying high right now and would also like a little revenge as the Vikings wrapped up the NFC North in Week 17 last year at Lambeau Field. I think the Packers roll in this one.
Pick: Packers -6.5