Jan 012016
 

Minnesota Vikings (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (10-5)

The Packers were favored by 5.5 over the Vikings last week on the early line, but now are favored by just 3, a significant line movement considering both 3 and 4 are key numbers. While about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer, close to 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so only having to lay a field goal with the Packers now is a significant difference. I love fading significant line movements whenever it makes sense.

It might seem like the line movement was warranted, considering the Packers lost 38-8 in Arizona last week and the Vikings won 49-17 at home against the Giants, but it’s important not to get too excited about a team off their best performance of the season and also to not get too down on a team off their worst performance of the season. In fact, since 2002, teams are 20-11 ATS off of a loss of 24 or more when their opponent is coming off of a loss of 24 or more. It’s a small sample size, but it makes sense to contrarian bettors.

The Vikings have played better in recent weeks, blowing out the Giants last week, winning by 21 over a decent Bears team the week before, and coming close to beating the Cardinals in Arizona the week before that, but it’s important not to forget that before that, they got blown out at home twice in three weeks by the Seahawks and these Packers. The Vikings’ offense has been better in recent weeks and the defense got key players back last week in outside linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith, but they’ll continue to be without defensive tackle Linval Joseph, a significant absence, and they’re only barely better than their 14th place rank in rate of moving the chains differential suggests.

The Packers are probably a little bit worse than their 7th place rank in rate of moving the chains differential suggests, as left tackle David Bahktiari is highly questionable after missing last week and not practicing all week. He was severely missed last week. He could still try to give it a go on a bum ankle and it helps that this is the Sunday Night game, but he won’t be 100% even if he plays. However, the Packers do get cornerback Sam Shields back and are overall better than they looked last week.

It also really helps the Packers that they are at home this week. As long as Aaron Rodgers starts (minus any games he’s been knocked out very early with injuries), the Packers are 31-14-1 ATS at home since 2010 and 40-6 straight up, with an absurd +625 point differential, meaning they outscore opponents, on average, by 13.59 points per game. The Packers have been favored by at least 3.5 points in each of their last 16 home games (10-6 ATS), so we’re getting the Packers really cheap here at home. That’s too good to pass on. Despite what happened last week, the Packers are still the better of these two teams.

Green Bay Packers 23 Minnesota Vikings 13

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -3

Confidence: Medium

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