Early Bird Breakdown Week 16 – Vikings @ Packers

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s week sixteen of the regular season. Before diving into the breakdown, let’s look back to last week’s game.

The Recap:

Last week the Packers traveled to Carolina with their playoff hopes on the line and the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers on their side. Carolina’s stout defense combined with some rust from Rodgers led to three interceptions and an early hole Green Bay could not climb out of. Ultimately they lost 31-24 and were eliminated from playoff contention.

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs Vikings’ Defense:

Aaron Rodgers return was short lived, after a rough outing last week the Packers have been eliminated from playoff contention and the Packers are sitting Rodgers for the last two games to not cause any lingering issues into the off season. As such, it is up to Brett Hundley once again.

The Vikings defense is one of the best in the NFL and Hundley will have some difficulties moving the ball against them. The plan likely will revert back to a run-heavy offense to try and grind out a close game. However the Vikings are the second best total defense in the league and are second best at both defending the pass and stopping the run. Hundley will need to have his best game and convert on multiple tough third downs to keep the Packers in the game.

Packers’ Defense vs Vikings’ Offense:

The Packers defense will have to carry the heavy burden with Rodgers being sidelined again. The Vikings offense is not particularly scary, but quarterback Case Keenum has played efficient this season for the Vikings. The Vikings likely will play this matchup particularly conservative because they are facing off versus Brett Hundley instead of Rodgers, allowing their defense to try and win it for them.

Green Bay’s defense in recent weeks has been struggling mightily after looking good earlier in the season. They now are 26th in total defense and have been killed on third downs. Keenum likely will be able to keep drives alive. The Vikings offense is incredibly balanced, being top 10 both rushing and passing in the league.

The Weather:

It will be a clear but chilly game, with an expected kickoff around 17 degrees.

The Prediction:

The vikings enter this game as 8.5 point favorites and for good reason. At an 11-3 record, they have locked in a playoff spot and are one win behind Philadelphia for home field throughout the playoffs. The Packers meanwhile are only playing for pride and would be better off in the long run losing to improve their draft stock. As such, McCarthy likely has been instructed to be overly cautious with anyone who could get an injury that would linger long into the offseason (similar to how Rodgers has already been pulled). The Packers have nothing to gain from a win, the Vikings have a chance to make a Super Bowl run, and they are the better team offensively and defensively. Vikings win 31-20.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University