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Fierce Battle in the NFC North: Packers vs. Vikings

The Green Bay Packers opened the season as football betting favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, but their performance against Jacksonville in their season opener left a lot to be desired. The Jaguars are coming of a 5-11 season, yet were able to give a playoff contender a run for their money. Sure Jacksonville had a tremendous offseason, but the way the Packers played does little to validate fans’ predictions about Green Bay. The Packers came away with it 27-23 but they showed plenty of room for improvement on both sides of the ball.

Green Bay’s performance can best be summed up by the emotion displayed from Aaron Rodgers during the 3rd quarter. After a successful drive made up of 16 plays for 73 yards that took nearly 5 minutes off the clock, the Packers were stopped 2 yards short of the goal line. On the first three downs McCarthy had elected to run the ball and afterwards Rodgers wanted to go for it on 4th down, in order to put the nail in the Jaguars’ coffin. If they scored a touchdown the Pack would’ve gone up 31-20, and even if they failed Jacksonville would be pinned on their own 2. McCarthy ended up calling Rodgers off and sent in the Field Goal unit. Rodgers was visibly upset with the decision, a reaction that matched the majority of football betting fans. McCarthy’s decision paints him as someone who coaches to not-lose, instead of to win football games. Not every head coach has a two-time MVP lining up under center and trusting Rodgers would go a long way for the Packers. The quarterback-head coach relationship will continue to get scrutinized as Green Bay prepares for their Week 2 opponent, the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings entered 2016 as the reigning NFC North Champions and they’ll be looking to make progress into claiming the division by beating the Packers. Minnesota debuted against the Tennessee Titans, but had to rely on their defense to win the game. Terry Bridgewater, Minnesota’s starting quarterback, was out due to injury and Shaun Hill received the start. For that reason it’s no surprise that Minnesota’s game plan would heavily revolve around Adrian Peterson, but the Titans were prepared to handle the veteran. Peterson was held to an average of 1.6 yards per carry, and behind Hills 77.3 passer rating, the Vikings had no choice but to turn to defense to put up points. That didn’t prove to be an issue however, as Minnesota’s defense finished the day with 3 turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The defense had no choice but the carry the Vikings on Sunday, and both the offense and special teams struggled to put points on the board. Blair Walsh, Minnesota’s kicker, missed two field goals by a considerable margin and even missed an extra point attempt. Walsh’s inconsistency could spell trouble for the Vikings down the road and if it isn’t addressed, Minnesota could be missing from this year’s football betting playoffs.

The Packers and the Vikings will square off next Sunday to provide Week 2’s Sunday Night Football action, as well as another chapter in a heated rivalry. Whoever comes out on top will earn the No. 1 spot in the North, so, let’s check out the odds across the top sportsbooks to see who is favored in this early divisional matchup.

Week 2 Sunday, September 18th

Packers -2 ½ (-110) 45 (-110)
Vikings +2 ½ (-110) 45 (-110)

This is an important contest for two playoff contenders that could later on shape the playoff discussion. Aaron Rodgers isn’t known for turning the ball over and if the Vikings don’t get any momentum on offense it’s unlikely they’ll be able to win the game. The Packers defense struggled against the pass and come Sunday their run defense will get put to the test against one of the better backs in the league. This is one SNF matchup fans won’t want to miss.