Vikings-Packers Sunday Night Preview

QUESTION TO PONDER, CAN VIKINGS PLAY INSPIRED FOOTBALL AGAIN?

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings made the most of their relatively mediocre talent to crash the NFC Playoff party as a Wildcard. They weren't really a playoff caliber team. But, they snuck in, and had a chance to do so again with this year's talent considering that quarterback Christian Ponder was still early in his learning curve.

Except...the offense lost confidence in Ponder...the defense took at least one step backward if not two...and suddenly management decided they absolutely, positively had to give Josh Freeman a chance to run the show no matter how ill-prepared, ill-informed, and rusty he was.

You all saw how that worked out this past Monday Night in New York. Freeman is out this week with what's being reported as a concussion. That means Ponder is back in the saddle, trying to ride the Norse back to respectability.

There's no better place for a statement win than AT HOME, on NATIONAL TELEVISION, against A HATED DIVISIONAL RIVAL! That at least sets up the potential that Sunday Night's Green Bay/Minnesota game on NBC will be more competitive than last Monday's Vikings/Giants debacle on ESPN. Let's run some numbers...

Won-Lost Records (opponents so far)
Green Bay: 4-2 (at SF, Washington, at Cincinnati, Detroit, at Baltimore, Cleveland)
Minnesota: 1-5 (at Detroit, at Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Carolina, at NYG)

The only win came against Pittsburgh...and it came when Matt Cassel was the quarterback after Ponder was injured. Minnesota was disappointing early, though they were at least close at Chicago. The team seemed to throw in the towel vs. Carolina for some reason. Maybe it was tied directly to the announced signing of Freeman. Green Bay's been an amazing story themselves this season...sitting at 4-2 despite suffering countless injuries to skill position players. That's a tribute to Aaron Rodgers and the heart of this team. If not for a ridiculous fumble late vs. Cincinnati, the shorthanded Packers would be 5-1.

Yards-Per Play to Date
Green Bay: 6.5 on offense, 5.4 on defense
Minnesota: 5.1 on offense, 5.4 on defense

Rodgers knows how to move the ball, so Green Bay has stellar offensive numbers this year even with their injuries. That differential of +1.1 is very strong as well, keeping the Packers on the short list for potential Super Bowl possibilities if they can ever get healthy. Minnesota's differential is much better than a 1-5 record would suggest. That gives them some hope for being competitive...if the players still want to be. That's admittedly in question given Monday's tank job.

Turnover Differential
Green Bay: -2
Minnesota: -2

Green Bay will have trouble reaching the Super Bowl unless they improve in this area. If Rodgers has to carry the whole load on his shoulders, he's bound to have at least one bad interception game in the playoffs. Again, Minnesota is better here than their won-lost record would suggest. Not GOOD...but better than 1-5 would suggest.

Market Performance
Green Bay: 4-2 ATS
Minnesota: 2-4 ATS

No surprises there...beyond the fact that Green Bay always gets respect in the line but is still covering pointspreads.

Current Line: Green Bay by 9, total 47

The market is telling you that Green Bay would be -12 on a neutral field, and -15 at home! That would have seemed crazy in the first month of the season. But, given Minnesota's blowout losses the last two weeks, and the general disconnect between management and the players...it's a justifiable price. Green Bay is A LOT better than the Giants team that just won by 17, and probably better than the Carolina team that won by 25 on this field two weeks ago.

It all boils down to this. If Minnesota shows up, that line's too high. If Minnesota is still in the tank, the line should be twice as high!

JIM HURLEY is at his best when INFORMATION is going to be the deciding factor. His sources on site will give the word Saturday about Minnesota's motivation. That will determine whether or not this game makes the cut for Sunday. You can purchase the full Sunday card right here at the website before the early games kick off. If you have any questions, call us in the office Sunday morning at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you tomorrow to run the numbers in the Seattle/St. Louis game that's set for Monday Night Football this week on ESPN. We'll pick back up with the World Series again on Tuesday...either a Game Six preview or a summary of a surprising 4-1 series victory from either the Boston Red Sox or St. Louis Cardinals.

INFORMATION IS KING when it comes to sports handicapping. And, the exclusive TEAM HANDICPAPING approach here at NETWORK makes JIM HURLEY THE KING OF INFORMATION!

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