Free NFL Pick: Green Bay at Minnesota 11-21-2010

November 17, 2010

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Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Sunday November 21st, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Green Bay -3

Overview:

The 6-3 Green Bay Packers are on a three game win streak and are coming off a bye week. Green Bay sits atop the NFC North in a tie with the 6-3 Chicago Bears. They will look to create some breathing room by knocking off the 3-6 Minnesota Vikings, who continue to struggle on a weekly basis. T

he Vikings have a clear divide between head coach Brad Childress and the rest of the locker room. The Randy Moss acquisition fizzled and the Vikings look completely disoriented. With Green Bay rolling, is it possible that the Packers will win by a measly field goal?

Keys to the Game:

  • Adrian Peterson needs to get 25 touches. The Minnesota passing game that made them so successful last year has been nonexistent this year. This puts more pressure on Adrian Peterson, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Peterson is the most complete running back in the NFL and makes it difficult for a defense to completely shut him down. Teams are once again loading up the box to put a stop to Peterson, which helps Brett Favre in the passing game. Green Bay dominates the pass moreso than than the run, so if the Vikings are going to get anything going offensively, they need to feed Adrian Peterson early and often.
  • Aaron Rodgers is improving, which is a good thing because he had a pedestrian 12 touchdown to nine interception ratio before his three touchdown performance against the Cowboys. To Rodgers’ credit, the Packers have a series of injuries that have crippled their offense beyond recognition. There are new faces all over the field, which makes life difficult for Rodgers. In his last outing against Minnesota, he threw for 295 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. The big storyline of the Packers offense was not Rodgers in the Minnesota game, it was the emergence of wide receiver James Jones.
  • Jones is a beneficiary to the string of injuries that Green Bay has encountered this season. Jones has posted two 100 yard games in his last three outings. The Packers needed someone to step up and become a go to guy in the place of the fallen talent in the receiving corp and it appears Jones may fit the bill. While Donald Driver looks like he may be able to play, look for Jones to still have a number of targets.
  • Percy Harvin is up against it. He has put up two 100 yard games since the departure of Randy Moss, but don’t expect Harvin to continue performing at such a high level. He is involved in an ongoing not so secret dispute with his head coach. Aside from the near physical confrontation with Chilldress, he is battling severe migraine headaches and an injured ankle. Brett Favre is literally falling apart and he is unlikely to have much time to throw against the Packers front. Harvin is battling adversity from a number of different sources. While his recent performance is admirable, it doesn’t look like he is slated for the 1000 yard season he is on pace for.
  • Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn form a running back tandem that is good enough to win with. While neither are even close to Ryan Grant’s caliber, the two combine to give the Green Bay Packers just over 100 yards a game. The Packers have a somewhat lopsided offense, but unlike the Broncos, teams can’t drop back and expect the ball to be thrown on virtually every play. The Packers take advantage of nickel looks and dime packages by getting after the opposing defense on the ground. While it isn’t overwhelmingly effective, it works just well enough to keep defenses honest.

Key Matchup:

Clay Matthews Vs. Jarad Allen

  • While the two don’t meet on the field, the competition amongst them could decide this game outright. Matthews has 10.5 sacks on the year. Last time he went up against Minnesota, he came away empty handed. This is a chance for Matthews to redeem himself and come away with a big performance. He is the best pass rusher in a 3-4 defense in the entire league. While he might not be Lawrence Taylor, he has that type of effect on football games.
  • Jared Allen might only have 4.5 sacks on the season, but all but one of those sacks has come in the last two games. He faces a bigger challenge this week than in the last two games -when he faced the Chicago and Arizona offensive lines- but Allen had a decent performance last time he faced the Packers. Although he was held sackless, he got to Rodgers once and defended two passes, even intercepting Rodgers on one occasion. While it is likely that both will have a big day, whoever has a bigger impact defensively will likely end up in the winning locker room.

Wrap Up:

Green Bay has flat out dominated opposing quarterbacks this season. Favre is an interception machine and should not be expected to hold his own against his former team. Wounded and hopeless, the Minnesota Vikings have little to play for. While Adrian Peterson might have a big day on the ground, the costly errors are unforgivable when facing the Green Bay Packers. In a week where the Packers have an opportunity to take control of their division, it is unlikely Minnesota will remain competitive. Green Bay by 6.5.

Fere NFL Pick: Green Bay -3


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