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Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings Prediction and Preview

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings Prediction and Preview

NFC-North leading Packers head to Minneapolis to take on the Vikings

It's a crucial NFC North contest as the Vikings host the Packers on Sunday. These two teams split their meetings last year with the road team winning each game. Aaron Rodgers had seven touchdown passes with no interceptions in these matchups while Dalvin Cook accounted for five TDs. Green Bay is 4-6-1 in the last 11 meetings against its division rivals. 

The Packers welcomed Rodgers back to the field as they knocked off Seattle 17-0 at Lambeau Field. It wasn't necessarily the best numbers for the signal-caller, as he didn't throw a touchdown pass but did have an interception. Some of that could be because of the weather, which wasn't the best in Wisconsin. The headliner is a defense that has continued its hot play as of late, holding the Seahawks to just 15 first downs and 208 yards. The Packers' D has been a very pleasant surprise as a unit considering the injuries that are holding them back.

Minnesota snapped a two-game losing streak with a 27-20 road victory at the Chargers last week. There was a concerted effort to get the ball more to Justin Jefferson, and the wide receiver out of LSU had nine receptions for 143 yards. The Vikings defense harassed Justin Herbert and held the LA offense to 20 first downs and 253 yards of offense total. This victory represented the second victory outside of Minneapolis for the Vikings this season.

Green Bay (8-2) at Minnesota (4-5)

Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. ET
TV: FOX
Spread: Packers -2

Three Things to Watch

1. Intangibles
Green Bay's playing its fifth road game since Oct. 10, so one has to wonder whether or not there is some sort of weariness with the constant travel. The Packers have a high-profile game next week at home against the Rams, but a divisional matchup takes precedent over that one, especially since things could tighten up if injuries continue to hit Green Bay. The Vikings are playing their lone home game over a five-week span, so you know they'll be ready for this one. Next week Minnesota is in San Francisco taking on the 49ers.

2. Can the Packers' defensive stand continue?
Over the last five weeks, only Arizona has crossed the 20-point mark against Green Bay. The Packers' defense is without No. 1 cornerback Jaire Alexander and linebacker Za'Darius Smith, who is also on injured reserve. Green Bay ranks third overall in total defense at 309.9 yards per contest. That number has dipped under 260 over the last three games, so this team is in the zone. Cook ran for only 94 yards last week against a Chargers defense that worst in the league against the run. We'll see if the Jefferson involvement was a one-week thing or whether they continue to feed him plenty.

3. Which Cousins shows up?
Kirk Cousins has been two different quarterbacks this season it seems. He's crossed the 290-yard passing mark four times while also going under 220 yards three other times. Last year's two matchups with the Packers were completely different. In the loss, he threw for 259 yards and got little help from the ground game, while the contest they won, he threw for only 160 yards, but Cook ran for 163 yards and picked up 63 through the air.

Final Analysis

The Packers are really hot right now defensively, so it's hard to bet against them. With another week of reps, Rodgers will shake off even more rust and play a whole lot better. Even though they are on the road, I just believe more in Green Bay's consistency compared to the Vikings, who are up and down on any given week.

Prediction: Packers 24, Vikings 20

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— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.