Monday Night Football, Week 10 edition: Minnesota vs. Green Bay

The undefeated Green Bay Packers (8-0) host the visiting Minnesota Vikings (2-6) for a rematch between the two NFC North foes, in what should be another exciting offensively-based game for football fans and online sports betting fans alike.

Without a doubt, tonight’s Monday Night Football match-up draws attention first and foremost on the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is having himself another outstanding year, and has his Packer offense primed as the top-scoring, top-overall offensive unit in NFL Football. Putting up 34.4 points per game this year, Green Bay has been able to outgun any team, regardless of the scoring put up in opposition, using their superbly efficient passing game which has been able to score at just about any time in any contest this season. Despite lacking a strong running game, which ranks 23rd in the league behind James Starks and and Ryan Grant, and a defense that has resembled that of an NCAA Football team (31st against the pass, 30th in total defense), the fact that the Pack keeps on winning regardless shows that this team is beyond dangerous, especially whenever legendary defensive coordinator Dom Capers decides it’s time to crack down and start playing better against opposing offenses. That time may be at the present for tonight’s game at Lambeau Field, where the Packers will seek to make many improvements in a quick turnaround against a Vikings team they just played on October 23rd, in a 33-27 win at Minnesota.

While Minnesota has certainly struggled this year while working in rookie quarterback Christian Ponder into the mix with veteran QB Donovan McNabb, there has been lots of good signs for Vikings fans, especially for this match-up ahead. In the meeting three weeks ago against Green Bay, Minnesota managed 435 yards of total offense, including 218 on the ground, with star running back Adrian Peterson having a field day with 175 yards rushing and a touchdown. Ranking 5th in the nation in rushing (mostly due to the lack of a solid starter at quarterback forcing the run), Minnesota will certainly aim to be as effective with the run as they were in the last match-up against Green Bay, however in order to come up clutch with a seemingly impossible road victory tonight, balance on both sides of the Vikings game is essential, and that starts more so with the defense than the offense. Though the Vikings simply must find ways to get more balls to the likes of talented wide-out Percy Harvin (who despite 31 catches, has no TD catches), tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and yardage leader Michael Jenkins, it’s even more imperative for the Vikes to come up with a game plan for stopping Aaron Rodgers, who will be once again licking his chops to go up against the leagues’ 30th-ranked pass defense. Trying to go toe-to-toe in the passing game tonight is not an option, as it has been proven 14 times in a row that the Pack will win if you try to simply outscore them. The Vikings strong play against the rush led by Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen (12.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles) may be the best part of their D-game (ranking 6th while allowing 94.4 yards/game), but it’s more about how the Vikings can adjust to a scrambling quarterback who is insanely accurate whether pressured or in the pocket, and has no troubles tucking the ball in and scrambling for first downs.

Green Bay, on the offensive side of the ball at least, is what you would call completely stacked and confident in their game plan. Rushing game? Who needs it? With the huge and almost unmatchable presence of wide receiver Greg Jennings (48 catches, 723 yards, 6 TDs), along with the sure-handed tight end Jermichael Finley (30 catches, 378 yards, 5 TDs) and the speedy deep threat of Jordy Nelson (29 catches, 570 yards, 5 TDs) lining up against opposing defensemen, there are simply too many weapons for any defense to focus on both the pass rush, and the containment of these stand-out receiving threats. Minnesota’s very porous secondary has been an issue for a few years running now, and simply doesn’t seem to be getting better. The numbers especially don’t look good against Aaron Rodgers, who has burned the Vikings for an average of 320 yards passing and 14 TDs overall in his past five games against them, and was close to flawless throwing for 335 yards, 3 TDs and no picks against them on October 23rd. While I imagine Green Bay changes up their game plan a little bit on offense to balance out the attack in today’s game, don’t expect for a moment that Green Bay won’t come out gun slinging early on tonight, looking for a classic Aaron Rodgers quick opening drive to set the tone for the game.

Keys for the game tonight will start with what kind of defensive scheme Minnesota will plan to run with against the Pack, and what they can possibly do to limit the effectiveness of Aaron Rodgers. In a classic example of a ‘you can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them’ scenario, Minnesota will have to mix and match pass rushing scenarios with zone containment in order to double up on Greg Jennings, and keep Jermichael Finley in check, while also staying home on Aaron Rodgers, who has no problem with pressure or getting pushed out of the pocket. Finding a solution to stop the top-rated NFL offense of the Packers may prove to be one impossible task to ask of the 23rd overall defense in the league, but on a national stage for a Monday Night match-up, we can certainly expect a strong effort for the Vikings against their NFC North foes. With that in mind, perhaps we have to look at the ability of the Minnesota offense to stay on the field, and limit the amount of time the Packers’ offense has to work tonight. If Adrian Peterson can stay hot (obviously it would be hard to expect his 7.3 yards/carry average he put up in the last meeting), and keep the Vikings moving the 1st down chains, perhaps the continually improving Christian Ponder can get a little pressure off of him and work down field against a susceptible Packers secondary. It’s a tall order for Minnesota, but it’s their best shot. Green Bay is known to give up the big play (a staggering 43 plays of over 20 yards to opposing offense), and it’s a fact that any drive with a play of 20+ yards or more ends up in points over 70% of the time. If Ponder and Peterson can both have success and keep drives going, this could end up a better Monday Night Football match-up than most would expect based on records alone.

Betting Lines for Minnesota vs. Green Bay at Sportsbook is our featured online sports betting website of the day, offering all the best betting lines for all the action each and every day of the sports week. For today’s contest, the wagering options are highly inflated in favor of Green Bay at home, which comes as little surprise to any NFL football fan. Against the spread, Green Bay is a massive 13 point favorite, taking into account their ability to put up more than 34 points a game, and their dominance at home in front of the cheese heads numbering in the tens of thousands. On the money line, it’s probably one of the most lopsided showdowns of the NFL Monday Night calendar, with Green Bay at -750 odds as favorite and Minnesota at +550 as underdogs, but in truth it could hardly be expected that anyone in their right mind would venture a wager on the Vikings to pull off a miracle upset, on the road with a rookie quarterback against the best offense in the NFL. As such, what starts to get interesting for sports betting fans is the over/under on tonight’s game, which sits at a reasonable 50 points (-110 odds on the over or under wager), and was easily clipped (60 pts total) in the October 23rd meeting between these two teams. While that last match-up was indoors on turf, tonight’s game looks to be under relatively clear skies with weather being a minor factor. Should Minnesota win the toss, and start out with a productive opening drive to set the tone, we could see the over/under easily get clipped as both teams go in excess of 25 points on offense. However if Green Bay starts out with a text-book drive with 7 points on the board and Minnesota is left to play catch-up all night with the passing game, Green Bay could end up being the only team doing the scoring all night, keeping points to a minimum.

Our Pick to Win:

While I really hope that Minnesota shows up in this NFC North battle on Monday Night Football tonight to make it interesting for football fans, I think this week we finally begin to see the Packers defense step up their game after being a laughing stock of the NFL for 9 weeks (it’s funny only because they are winning), and work first and foremost on shutting down the Vikings strong running game in order to dominate this match-up. Minnesota simply won’t be able to stop the pass against the most talented all-around quarterback in the league, but with focus on the defensive side of the ball for both teams tonight, expect the first half of the game at least to be a pretty decent contest. That said, it could get ugly in the second half tonight especially if Minnesota can’t keep its offense on the field, and regardless of how well the Vikings play, they still are going to come up short tonight, keeping Green Bay’s win streak at 15 in a row, in a 35-17 victory for the Packers.

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