NFL Picks: Vikings-Packers Thursday Night Odds Report

Jason Lake

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 1:07 PM GMT

We’re not entirely certain who’ll play quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings this Thursday. Apparently it doesn’t matter much; the Week 5 NFL lines saw the Vikings open as double-digit home dogs against the Green Bay Packers.

Jason’s record after Week 4: 12-14 ATS, 5-4-1 Totals

Profit: minus-5.6 units

 

There aren’t many athletes more beloved in pro sports than the third-string quarterback. That’s provided you fit the profile: four years putting up impressive numbers in the FCS or lower, then continued success during NFL preseason games. The regular season? Make sure you look good while you’re holding that clipboard: You’re on television! Bonus points if you make an emergency relief appearance here or there and don’t embarrass yourself.

Unfortunately for Christian Ponder, he’s the other kind of third-string quarterback: an ex-starter. Nobody loves those guys. You could have cut the angst in Minneapolis with a knife when Ponder was pressed into Sunday service against the Atlanta Falcons. Will we see him again this Thursday night (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS) when the Vikings visit the Green Bay Packers? Or will it be Teddy Bridgewater, the hero of last week’s 41-28 victory over the Falcons (–5 away)? The NFL odds still wait for no man: Minnesota opened as a 10.5-point puppy (–130) Sunday night.

 

Teddy Ballgame
It’s interesting to see most of our featured online sportsbooks decline to circle Thursday night’s game. The Vikings have only said that they’re “optimistic” Bridgewater will be able to play, even though he didn’t practice on Monday. However, we do know the MRI on his sprained left ankle came up negative. We also saw Bridgewater smiling on the sidelines while Ponder was performing mop-op duty against Atlanta.

He earned that smile. Bridgewater had a strong game against the Falcons in his first career start, going 19-of-30 for 317 yards (no touchdowns or picks) and adding 27 yards and a TD on five carries. The Vikings were already up 35-28 by the time Bridgewater had to leave during the fourth quarter. Ponder handed the ball off nine times to Jerick McKinnon and scrambled for a yard – no pass attempts in his two series, as Minnesota wisely managed the clock.

You won’t find many Vikings fans who’d rather see Ponder get the start on Thursday Night Football. He’s been somewhat unfairly painted as a failure, despite playing at above replacement-level (plus-209 Total DYAR) in 2012, his sophomore campaign. Even during last year’s ill-fated, injury-plagued season, Ponder was only minus-73 Total DYAR. But replacement-level is Bridgewater’s floor, not his ceiling. He was the projected No. 1 overall pick at this time last year.

 

Relax, Don’t Do It
We were a little deeper into the 2013 season before the Packers had to rely on their third-string quarterback. Scott Tolzien (66.8 passer rating) ended up making two starts before he was replaced by the returning Matt Flynn. You might remember the game where Flynn took over: That was in Week 12 against Ponder and the Vikings (+5.5 away), as Flynn orchestrated a late comeback to eventually steal a critical point in a 26-26 final.

This time around, the Vikings won’t avoid Aaron Rodgers. He told fans to relax after Green Bay’s slow start (1-2 SU, 0-1-1 ATS), then he delivered four TD passes in last week’s 38-17 dismantling of the Chicago Bears (+2) at home. This should also help fans relax: Rodgers was in the saddle during last year’s other game against the Vikings (+7.5 at home), a 44-31 win in Week 8. That was another one of Ponder’s starts, by the way.

Our Week 5 consensus reports at press time show a fairly even split at this massive spread – although the Vikings are getting an overwhelming 93 percent support at +425 on the moneyline. Such is the power of Teddy. We should have a clearer picture of his status for Thursday night by the time we offer you our free picks for both the spread and the total later in the week.

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