Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 NFL Week 16: Packers vs. Vikings Preview and Prediction

All Packers fans want for Christmas is a win over the Vikings today at Lambeau Field. Yes, that's about the best present anyone could wish for this weekend. Because that would set up the New Year's Day contest in Detroit for the NFC North Division Championship and a guaranteed home playoff game. Sugar plum fairies and 12 drummers drumming haven't got anything on that scenario!
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers looks to continue his run
of big passing games against the Vikings.

Photo by Jim Matthews

The Packers look to have a healthier Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Lane Taylor back today. That will be a boost, as will the continued strong play of RB (no longer receiver) Ty Montgomery, TE Jared Cook, and the Pack's receiving corps. Let's not forget the consistently great play of the Packers' offensive line, as well. They should give Rodgers plenty of time today against a good-but-not-great ViQueens defense.

But perhaps the key today will be the play of the Packers' secondary against Minnesota's offense. Damarious Randall got torched in the first meeting against Minnesota. He's play better since, but was pulled from the game last week against Da Bearz after repeatedly failing in coverage late in the game. The secondary overall was responsible for soft coverage against a lackluster Chicago offense, allowing them back in the game with 17 points given up in the fourth quarter. To be fair, the Packers' pass rush was non-existent, as well. That troubling scenario played out in the first meeting with Minnesota, too, giving then newly-arrived QB Sam Bradford more than enough time to be proficient in his reads and throws, in no small measure leading to the win over the Pack.

Minnesota got embarrassed last weekend against the Colts and no doubt head coach Mike Zimmer has used this as a motivational tool for today's game against the Pack. But if the Packers come out with a fast start and keep the pressure on for a full 60 minutes instead of just 30 or 45, the ViQueens should fold. The Packers are healthier at this point and are ascending at the right time will the 'Queens are going the opposite direction to finish out the season, with virtually no hope of making the playoffs. The absence of RB Adrian Peterson today also doesn't help their chances.

The Prediction
Perhaps a good omen for the Packers -- or at least a bad one for Minnesota -- is the fact that the ViQueens plane ran off the runway at the Appleton airport while taxiing to the terminal last evening. They were stuck on the plane for more than 3 hours. I know: that's a shame. Let's hope for a similarly distressing occurence or two to happen to them today during the game.

The Packers are favored by 7 points at the time of this writing. That should be achievable.

We're calling this game 34-20 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!! And Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christimas, too!