Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bridgewater Injury Opens the Betting Gates

Earlier in the week, Minnesota (+9.5) in Green Bay looked like one of the more challenging games to bet this week. Thursday Night Football outcomes are generally difficult to predict, as teams don't have enough time to prepare for one another. That, in addition to a divisional rivalry and a rookie QB at the helm for the Vikings made the big spread one to avoid. Then, around 10:30 AM ET on Thursday, ESPN NFL reporter, Adam Schefter, dropped a bomb on the handicapping world. He stated that all signs are pointing toward Minnesota's signal-caller, Teddy Bridgewater, sitting this one out with an ankle injury. Christian Ponder is expected to get the start under-center for the Vikings, making it tough to believe that the men in purple can survive a shootout against 3x Pro Bowler - QB Aaron Rodgers.

Last week, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers silenced their critics with a brilliant performance in Chicago. After Green Bay's 1-2 start, Rodgers told his fans to "R-E-L-A-X" in a pregame interview. He then proceeded to back up the talk with a 38-17 win in Solider Field, and threw for 302 yards and 4 TDs. Granted, Chicago's defense is nothing to write home about, but neither is Minnesota's. Rodgers is a former NFL MVP, and if he finds a rhythm, don't expect him to be thwarted at home.

For Vikings fans, Bridgewater's injury news has to be a tough pill to swallow. They too looked like a force to be reckoned with last week, piling up 41 points at home against the Falcons. Again, Atlanta doesn't provide much resistance on the defensive side of the ball, but after Minnesota scored just 16 combined points over the prior two weeks with veteran Matt Cassel at QB, the Vikes were finally trending in the right direction. When we look toward tonight's game, Green Bay's defense has struggled for a few years now, so this one has shootout written all over it.

To make matters worse, there is heavy rain in the forecast for Wisconsin Thursday night. If Adrian Peterson were still in the lineup for Minnesota, bettors would feel comfortable taking the points and hoping for a heavy dose of "Purple Jesus." With backup Matt Asiata in there instead, the firepower is lacking. Green Bay's RBs Eddie Lacy and James Starks are the two best, and most experienced backs on either roster, so if it does turn into a ground-and-pound style game, the Packers still have plenty of upside.

In addition, don't expect Rodgers to fully abandon the air attack due to the weather. We've seen him throw darts 30 yards down-field on a snowy Sunday in December, so a little rain shouldn't deter one of the league's strongest arms. Rodgers is also one of the best play-action QBs in the NFL, so if the ground attack is working, we could see some deep shots early in the game.

Minnesota on the other hand, would probably prefer to protect their 3rd-string QB with short routes and safe passes. Unfortunately, if they're playing from behind, they'll have no choice but to take the training wheels off of Ponder, which could lead to turnovers, and an even bigger deficit.

As for the numbers, Green Bay has won seven of the last 8 meetings with Minnesota. They're also 22-12 against the spread in home games since 2010. If that's not enough, Aaron Rodgers is 49-30 ATS since 2009.

Whichever way you're leaning, be sure to join us on SnapCall to make your in-play predictions. Coverage for this one starts at 8:25 PM ET. Don't miss it!

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