The easiest way to put rumors of tanking to bed is by winning, and the Vikings have done an excellent job at that over the last two weeks. Coming off a massive win over the 49ers, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings will head on the road for a divisional game with the Packers, and I expect both teams to continue trending in opposite directions.
Heading into week seven, the Packers were coming off a two-game losing streak and a bye, so they seemed primed for a bounce-back game against the struggling Broncos. Instead, they would fall 19-17 and manage just two touchdowns against one of the worst statistical defenses in the league. Jordan Love finished the game with 180 yards and two touchdowns, but his interception would be his 6th over the last three games.
If there was one positive on offense for Green Bay, it was that they rushed for a season-high 137 yards, but even with that performance, they still enter this weekend ranked 24th in rushing yards per game and average yards per carry. While their offense has looked incredibly stagnant at times, the Packers' defense has not been much better over the last few weeks.
In their loss to Denver, the Packers' defense finished with a (-9.89) EPA, with most of their struggles stemming from an inability to stop the run. In terms of this weekend, though, the Packers' biggest focus will have to be slowing Kirk Cousins and the Vikings passing game down. Many people, including myself, thought the loss of Justin Jefferson would have too much of a negative effect on the offense, but that has not been the case.
Behind Cousins and rookie wideout Jordan Addison, the Vikings managed a (16.30) EPA against a strong 49ers defense on the way to their 22-17 win. Cousins 378 yards and two touchdowns gave him 2,057 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. Those numbers have the veteran ranked 4th in passer rating and have a lot of people eating their words about the outlook of the Vikings season.
For the second time in a divisional game this season, the Vikings find themselves as road favorites at (-1.5), and I’ll be backing them for my play. Minnesota is hitting their stride offensively, even without a viable running game, and I think they realize that with their schedule over the coming weeks, they can still make a run at the division.
Kirk Cousins is not a quarterback who will fold if he is pressured by the Packers' pass rush, as he leads the league in pressured passing touchdowns, per FantasyPros. Minnesota wants to push the ball downfield, averaging seven yards per completion, and the ability to stretch the field with Jordan Addison like they did against the 49ers will be there this weekend. The Packers' defense has allowed the second-highest deep-adjusted completion percentage, according to FantasyPros.
My trust in the Vikings offense has only grown over the past two weeks, while my trust in the Packers offense is almost gone. Jordan Love is ranked dead last in the league in completion percentage, which has led to turnover issues, and that plays right into the hands of the Vikings' defense since they have forced six turnovers in the past two weeks. With Green Bay ranked 24th in rush yards on top of that, I don’t think they can keep pace with the Minnesota offense.
Minnesota Vikings (-1.5)