Packers vs. Vikings: Week 1 NFL Picks and Game Predictions

Packers vs. Vikings: Week 1 NFL Picks and Game Predictions

The Minnesota Vikings can beat the NFL odds this Sunday when they open the 2020 campaign against the Green Bay Packers – but take the Under instead.

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, September 13, 2020 – 01:00 PM EDT at U.S. Bank Stadium

Here we go, hurtling into the void. America must have football; there won’t be any fans in attendance (not officially, at least) when the Minnesota Vikings host the Green Bay Packers this Sunday, but play they will, coronavirus be damned. No fans in the stands means virtually no home-field advantage for the Vikings, but they might still have some value as 2.5-point favorites on the NFL odds board, down from –3.5 at the open.

Or you could just punt and take the Under. This has been close to a break-even Week 1 bet at 115-107-1 (51.8 percent, where break-even with the juice factored in is 52.4 percent) since 2006, the logic being that teams take a while to get their offenses going. That should be even more the case this year, with each team playing zero exhibition games thanks to COVID-19. If you were one of the early birds who jumped on the Under when the total opened at 47, well done; the highest total we see from our recommended sportsbooks at press time is 46 at BetOnline, with the juice for the Under at –115. Let’s give it a go anyway.

Cornering The Market

If you’re not a fan of totals, that half-point below the magic number three may be worth a bet on Minnesota – but only a fun-sized bet. The stat nerds at FiveThirtyEight haven’t released any projections yet, and might not even bother this year, but Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today likes the Vikes by 3.08 points. Keep in mind that you’ll once again be paying a –115 premium for this bet at most books, which means you’re not quite getting all of that half-point goodness.

The matchup on the ground does lean towards defense, though. Football Outsiders had Minnesota ranked No. 4 overall (No. 5 pass, No. 12 rush) in that department last year; the Vikings let cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander go during the offseason, but they picked up three new CBs in the first five rounds of the 2020 Draft, led by TCU prospect Jeff Gladney at No. 31 overall. Cornerback is one of the more fungible positions in football. They should be fine.

The Love Below

The Packers defense, meanwhile, was about as average as you can get last year, checking in at No. 15 (No. 9 pass, No. 27 rush) on the efficiency charts. They spent most of this year’s draft capital on offense, but Green Bay’s biggest get, first-round pick Jordan Love from Utah State, will spend Sunday on the sidelines watching Aaron Rodgers – who finished No. 13 last year in passing DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) among qualifying quarterbacks. Rodgers will turn 37 in December. 

You’re also looking at two of last year’s shakier special teams units, at least when it comes to the return game – and there should be oodles of short returns on Sunday, if we’re reading the tealeaves correctly. We shall see. There are lots of unknowns heading into the new season, so be careful for now with your NFL picks and everything else, and may the prolate spheroid be with you. 

My Pick: Under 46 (–115) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Under 46(-115)
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