Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Both of these teams missed the playoffs last season despite high expectations and both of these teams looked improved in week 1 over last season. The odds makers seem to think these two teams are about even, favoring the Packers at home by a field goal. I think this spread is off though, as I have higher expectations for the Packers. Both teams won week 1, but the Packers’ win came on the road in Chicago, while the Vikings’ win came at home against the Falcons. The Vikings had a higher margin of victory, but that game swung on a few plays, with the Vikings winning the turnover margin by 4. Turnover margin tends to be highly inconsistent week-to-week, so they won’t necessarily be able to rely on that again this week.
Week 1 aside, I also had higher expectations for the Packers coming into the season, with an improved defense and a healthier Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings should be better on offense this season with a better offensive line and a more balanced game plan, but their defense has several key players over 30 and likely won’t be as good as they’ve been in recent years. Aside from their takeaways, their defense struggled to stop the Falcons from moving up and down the field week 1, allowing a 43.28% first down rate and only winning the first down rate battle by 1.61%. The Packers’ offense didn’t look great week 1, but that was on the road in Chicago, who still has arguably the best defense in the NFL. They’re the more talented team in this matchup and should be favored by more than a field goal. I’m going to keep this at a medium confidence bet until we get clarification on David Bahktiari’s status, but even if he does end up sitting the Packers still have a good shot in this game.
Update: Bahktiari is expected to play and yet this line has dropped to 2.5, so I’m moving this up to high confidence. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -7, so we’re getting significant line value with the Packers. If I was confident Bahktiari was 100%, this would be my Pick of the Week.
Green Bay Packers 24 Minnesota Vikings 17
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -2.5