MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-8)
at GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-5)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: Green Bay -5, Total: 43.5
Slumping NFC North foes with quarterback questions meet Sunday when the Packers host the Vikings.
Minnesota will reluctantly stick with struggling QB Christian Ponder who was horrible in Sunday’s 41-20 loss at Seattle with 5.9 YPA and 2 INT. This drops his team to 1-8 SU on American soil this year, and 1-5 SU (2-4 ATS) since that lone away win in London over the Steelers in Week 4. Green Bay has managed just 15.3 PPG during three straight losses (SU and ATS) without QB Aaron Rodgers, who is still at least one week away from returning from his broken collarbone. This leaves QB Scott Tolzien (3 INT last week) as the starter for Sunday. The Packers outgained the Vikings 464-243 in a 44-31 win at Minnesota in Week 8, making them 7-1 SU (6-2 ATS) in the past eight meetings of this series. Both teams have significant trends in their favor this week. Mike McCarthy is 14-3 ATS (82%) versus awful passing defenses (64%+ comp. pct.) in the second half of the season since becoming the Green Bay head coach, but the Vikings fall into the category of road teams coming off a road defeat and revenging a loss against an opponent, who are 72-32 ATS (69%) in these instances over the past 10 seasons. Both teams have a slew of injuries, most notably Minnesota top WR Greg Jennings (Achilles) and two key Packers defenders, LB Nick Perry (foot) and CB Sam Shields (hamstring), who are all listed as questionable for Sunday.
Can the Packers end their losing skid and remain in the playoff picture? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are surging in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 60% ATS record (29-19-6) over the past four weeks. StatFox Brian went 2-1-2 ATS in Week 11 to improve to 70% ATS (14-6-2) over the past five weeks where he's been above .500 every week. Brian has not had a losing week in NFL Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Gary has four perfect weeks in NFL Best Bets since Week 4, while StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (15-11-1) in that same timeframe. StatFox Dave is 54% ATS (7-6-1) in NFL Best Bets since Week 8.
Minnesota QB Christian Ponder is 1-6 as a starter this year, throwing for just 1,375 yards (6.8 YPA), 6 TD and 9 INT in these seven games. He has had some success against Green Bay in his three-year career though, throwing for 234 yards and 3 TD in Week 17 last year to help his team secure a playoff berth. But this season, the Vikings rank 26th in the NFL in total offense (317.7 YPG), including 25th in passing offense (206.2 YPG). This shows that the team should be running the football more where they average 4.6 yards per carry (5th in NFL). RB Adrian Peterson has been bothered by a groin injury, but he will play on Sunday. That's bad news for the Packers considering Peterson has rushed for 1,601 yards on 5.5 YPC with 11 TD in 14 career games against them. The reigning MVP has scored 10 touchdowns for the seventh time in his seven NFL seasons, but after averaging 131.1 rushing YPG on 6.0 YPC last year, those numbers have plummeted to 85.1 rushing YPG on 4.4 YPC this season. The Vikings defense has been terrible this season, allowing the most points (32.0 PPG) and the third-most yards in the NFL (391.7 YPG), including 280.1 passing YPG (4th-worst in league). An NFL-worst defense on third downs (49% conversions) is a big reason why this unit has been on the field for 33:38, which is the second-longest duration of any NFL team. They have forced just two turnovers in the past six games combined, while tallying just 13 sacks during this span.
Although Packers QB Scott Tolzien forced some bad throws in his 3-INT showing last week, he also finished with a 71% completion rate, 339 passing yards and 10.0 yards per attempt. Six different players caught multiple passes from Tolzien, led by WRs Jordy Nelson (8 catches, 117 yards) and Jarrett Boykin (6 catches, 91 yards). Nelson dominated the Vikings in Week 8 with 123 yards and two scores, while Boykin chipped in with 89 yards on five catches (17.8 avg). But a huge disappointment last week was the ground game that managed just 55 yards on 20 carries (2.8 YPC), a far cry from the 153 YPG and 5.0 YPC that the team averaged in the previous eight games. Rookie RB Eddie Lacy has been solid in his rookie season with 696 rushing yards on 4.0 YPC, but he ran for just 3.2 YPC (94 yards on 29 carries) in the win over the Vikings. Green Bay's defense has been pretty effective in stopping the run, ranking tied for 12th in the league with 103.8 YPG allowed, but the pass defense has been poor, surrendering 247.1 passing YPG (21st in NFL) with 18 TD and just 4 INT. Although the red zone defense has been lackluster (56%, 19th in NFL), the Packers' third-down defense has been strong (36%, T-10th in NFL). Green Bay needs to make more big plays though, forcing just four turnovers in the past seven games combined.