Will the Packers Cover/Under Train Be Derailed this Week?
Editors Note: Welcome Andy Chitko to the stable of POINTSPREADS.CA contributors. Here's his analysis of Sunday's NFL Green Bay-Minnesota game.
CREDIT: TOTALPACKERS.COM (posted with writer's permission)
The Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Sunday November 21, 2021 12:00 PM CDT
Packers head coach Matt Lafleur is a breath of fresh air when compared to former head coach Mike McCarthy. After all, Lafleur takes responsibility for his failures and admits his shortcomings. His teams tend to win close games as opposed to losing them. And young Lafleur is more open and honest with the local media than his predecessor, who preferred temper tantrums over disclosure anytime someone dared question his “highly successful” judgement.
And we won’t even go into clock management. That’s for the day after the Cowboys are eliminated from the playoffs.
But when Matt Lafleur uttered the following words at his media availability on Monday, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the quote of the week.
“I think our team is tired, to be honest with you.”
This is not so shockingly surprising for several reasons. First, the Packers have endured more than half the season without the luxury of the bye week, something the Vikings had in Week 7. The Packers had to contend with not only their quarterback (and other key players) getting Covid, but also the fallout that came with Rodgers unveiling himself as a lying, Joe Rogan-loving, woke-mob hating, anti-science, self-centered douche.
Actually, it is quite possible the Packers have known all of this for a long time and was the motivation for general manager Brian Gutekunst and president Mark Murphy to move up and draft Jordan Love in the first round a couple years back. Still, that it all came to light for the rest of us to see is certainly not a good look.
Oh. And now Rodgers also has a case of Toevid he won’t tell anyone anything about, making it as believable as him being allergic to an unnamed ingredient in the vaccine. We’ve all heard the tale of the boy who cried wolf, and for many, anything Rodgers says ever again will be taken with a grain of salt. You can tell some local reporters feel this way, interjecting nearly repetitive questions in order to verify Rodgers isn’t trying to mislead or talk around answers. Can you blame them?
So even though the Packers are coming in red hot, covering in nine straight games against the spread, there appears to be some reason for caution. The early line on this game opened Packers -2, immediately shot up to 2.5, then retreated back to -1.5 where it currently sits. The Wynn Las Vegas, in an attempt to court Packers action, currently has Green Bay at just -1.
And what has happened since Matt Lafleur’s declaration on Monday that his team is tired? His quarterback didn’t practice until Friday, Alan Lazard is doubtful with a shoulder injury and who the hell really knows what’s going on down in the bowels of Lambeau Field in the Packers locker room. Who the hell knows indeed.
The Packers look like a team in need of a break. In the next two weeks prior to the Packers bye, they are looking at the Vikings Sunday followed by a Rams team that will be coming off a bye of their own. Nice timing, right? Some might feel this week is a prime spot for the Packers to let down and focus on the Rams as that could be considered the more consequential game for end-of-the-season tie-breaker scenarios. There’s no question both games have important implications and even though the Packers do have a substantial lead on the Vikings in the NFC North, that lead becomes tenuous with a loss this Sunday. And with a loss to the Vikings, comes a ton of pressure on the team heading into the Rams game before the bye. In other words, the Vikings could be the Packers’ proctologist in just a couple short weeks. Up. Their. Ass.
I feel strongly that the Packers are almost certain to lose one of the next two games, but in every locker room in the NFL the first goal of the season is to win your division. Under no circumstances should a Matt Lafleur-led team be looking past those pukes from the other side of the Mississippi River. This has the feel of a game where the Packers need to stay close. If it starts to get away from them early, Lafleur has in essence given his team an excuse to phone it in. They’re a tired football team.
So being the point-spread in this game is pretty much a non-factor, I do like the Packers to win and cover, but not enough to recommend them. I’ll sit back and watch and hope they can get it done.
TAKE THE UNDER!
Not only have the Packers covered in 9-straight, they’ve gone under the total in their last 7, thanks to a reborn defense under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. When taking a look at the Vikings results to date, it becomes pretty apparent that the team’s success is reliant upon the arm of Kirk Cousins more than it is on the legs of Dalvin Cook.
If we disregard the week 1 game against the Bengals as an outlier, so far this season the Vikings only win games when Kirk Cousins puts up a big number. It has helped that in each of those cases, Cousins also received ample support from the running game. So a big game from Cousins almost assures the Vikings win, while a big game from Dalvin Cook helps, but doesn’t appear as important. The Packers have won a few games this exact way and it will likely be the strategy again: Don’t let these very good wide receivers beat you for big plays and hope either you can contain the run, or your opponent abandons it like Pete Carroll did last week, dropping back to pass at an almost 3:1 ratio.
Although this will be one of the tougher tasks for the Packers secondary, does anyone really see Kirk Cousins going off for over 275 yards when you know Joe Barry’s focus will be stopping them? I don’t. Now that might mean Dalvin Cook rushes for 200 yards and if that happens I don’t need to tell you what that means. But if the Packers can keep Cousins + Cook to under 400 yards, that seems to be a strong recipe for success.
Because I do heed the words of Matt Lafleur and take caution in the expectations for this team this week, it feels like only a blowout loss and an early-raising of the white flag could lead to this one going over.
PROPS TO PT
If you’re looking for some prop bets to consider, look into Patrick Taylor who was moved up from the practice squad recently, saw a couple carries in the win against Seattle and will be firmly entrenched as the #2 running back behind AJ Dillon for the next couple weeks while Aaron Jones rehabs an MCL. Although at the time of this post, no lines were yet made available on individual players, I will immediately be looking at the Over/Under for receptions. Aaron Rodgers went out of his way to say some very nice things about Taylor, including that he is “a precise route-runner” and then also “He will play a lot and I expect him to play well.” Since being elevated to a larger role, Taylor has been making media appearances himself and has spoken about being an extremely detail-oriented person and player.
That sounds like someone who might have a nice week…and at a nice price!
Andrew Chitko is an excellent handicapper and a below average bettor. Although he is capable of uncovering keen insight in to sides and totals, he will almost certainly derail his profit margin chasing ridiculous parlays that have almost zero chance of cashing. Despite his self-awareness on these matters, expect the trend to continue until he hits a 12-teamer for a six-figure score. If he steps out of line and is convinced he has a lock, mortgage your house and bet the other way.