Sunday Night Vikings Packers Preview
VIKINGS AND PACKERS BATTLE FOR NFC NORTH CROWN SUNDAY NIGHT IN NFL REGULAR SEASON FINALE ON NBC
What's at stake is obvious and simple to follow. The winner of Sunday Night's Minnesota Vikings/Green Bay Packers game on NBC will win the NFC North and play a home game (probably in cold weather) on Wildcard Weekend. The loser will play a road game at either Washington (or tonight's opponent) when the playoffs begin next week.
Let's dig a little deeper into that. The loser of this game will fall to 10-6. Seattle is currently 9-6 and locked into a Wildcard. Should Seattle lose at Arizona Sunday afternoon...that makes the Seahawks 9-7 and the #6 seed. They would visit the NFC North champs. But, if Seattle wins to earn that tenth victory, they would own a tie-breaker over Minnesota, but NOT Green Bay because of head-to-head results.
Seattle beats Arizona
Green Bay beats Minnesota
We'd have a return engagement NEXT week of Minnesota at Green Bay, along with Seattle at Washington. On the other hand, if Minnesota springs the upset this Sunday night...they would host a 10-6 Seattle next week while Green Bay travelled to Washington. Of course, if Seattle loses and Green Bay wins...then 9-7 Seattle heads to Lambeau next week while Minnesota visits Washington. Got it? At least by kickoff everyone will know if Seattle won or lost! (We know NOW that everybody wishes they could play Washington!)
First things first...let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats say about this meeting...one we might be watching two weeks in a row!
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Minnesota: 10-5 (#13 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Green Bay: 10-5 (#8 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Green Bay has played the tougher schedule. They're probably slightly better. Well, a blowout win on the road suggests they could be a lot better! But the stats weren't as impressive in the Packers win as the final score might have suggested.
Minnesota: 5.3 on offense, 5.5 on defense
Green Bay: 5.1 on offense, 5.5 on defense
Very similar teams...which become even more similar once you adjust for schedule strength. That's why Green Bay's easy road win was such a surprise. It wasn't consistent with other recent data...and looks even more surprising because the GB offense has really struggled in recent weeks.
Green Bay: +5
Talk about similar teams...both teams have exactly 20 takeaways and 15 giveaways! Since they've played 15 games...that's an amazing job of protecting the ball on offense, but not a particularly dynamic job of forcing opposition miscues on defense.
Minnesota: 12-3 ATS (4-10-1 to the Under)
Green Bay: 9-6 ATS (5-10 to the Under)
Minnesota's blowout of the Giants pushed them to 80% against the spread this season. They're 12-2 ATS since the season opener debacle at San Francisco. But, as we discussed last week, those two losses were to Green Bay and Seattle at home. Bad sign heading into the playoffs because the Vikings look like a team that's better than mediocre but not particularly great yet. The market sure underestimated them...and their ability to defend. A "Minnesota and Under" combo is 22-7-1 through 15 games. Green Bay's ability to manufacture points without playmakers has them at 60% for the season. That loss at Arizona last week reminded people of how bad this team looks when Rodgers can't manufacture points. To this point...we have two teams that have been underrated by the market...but don't have the kind of stats that would petrify bye-rested Carolina and Arizona.
Current Line: Green Bay by 3, total of 46
Keep an eye on the weather forecast. That total could drop if conditions will be an issue. Adrian Peterson could be an issue too! How hard will these teams go at it knowing that they both have to play again next week in the NFC brackets? Is it the end of the world for Green Bay if they lose but draw Washington next week? Is it a true "win" for Minnesota if they have to run into the surging Seahawks?
So many angles for the TEAM OF EXPERTS here at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK to consider! We'll run the numbers and the storylines to make sure customers get a BIG, JUICY WINNER if a play is warranted. You can purchase the final word for Sunday NFL right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 before the early games get started. Be sure to check on combination packages that include college basketball through March Madness.
Speaking of hoops...we'll start integrating the hardwood into our reports the next time we're together. Here's what's ahead in the NOTEBOOK...
Monday: College Basketball Conference Report
Midweek and Weekend: NFL Wildcard Previews
Monday January 11: College Football Championship Preview
Next Week: NFL Divisional Round Previews
The action is already coming hot and heavy...and daily basketball is going to kick things up another notch down the road to March Madness. Keep looking for helpful handicapping tips here in the NOTEBOOK...then make sure you GET ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!