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Rethinking Minnesota-Green Bay, part deux

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    Vikings CB Antoine Winfield

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By Eric Edholm

When we make our weekly handicapping picks for the paper late on Sunday nights, it's often a tough chore.

Too often I am influenced over what just happened that day in the games, and I fail to see the bigger picture. Another impediment is when the team plays on Monday night, after we go to press. The lines are fresh and subject to change throughout the week, too. Plus, it's just a long day, putting Pro Football Weekly together for you, and I don't often think too clearly that late at night.

So when I looked at the Week Eight games and saw the rematch of Vikings-Packers, I didn't want the first game to influence me too much, I really didn't. I tried to picture what the game would be like on grass, on turf. I tried to picutre how much more emotional this one would be for Brett Favre there, in the house he helped re-build, and not in the new confines of the Metrodome. I wanted to factor in the new personnel for both sides (no Antoine Winfield for Minnesota; a beefed-up offensive line for the Packers, plus S Atari Bigby, but minus a few receivers).

I really did take that into consideration. And I still picked Minnesota.

The sharps are on the Packers, and I am starting to see why. I'll leave the handicapping to Mike Wilkening and his excellent "Covering the Spread" blog on this site. But I am starting to see that bigger picture with this game, the one I was too clouded to see Sunday.

And I got an email from reader Doug Karras (not sure of a relation to Alex), who presented to me these facts:

  • The Vikings are 3-12 at Lambeau Field since 1994.
  • Mike McCarthy is 3-0 against the Vikings there.
  • Adrian Peterson has lost both of his games in Green Bay (although I will add he got hurt in the game his rookie season and did well, running for 19-103-1, in the opener last season).

Further, Mr. Karras added that OLT T.J. Lang, who was among the victimized by DE Jared Allen in the Week Four game, has played better the past two games and should be more comfortable at home. Also: Ryan Grant has run well at Lambeau against the Vikings, Bigby is back and the fact that the Packers moved the heck out of the ball and mostly were felled by negative plays (sacks and turnovers) in the first matchup.

I'll counter with a few thoughts. First, I tend to hate historical statistics when it comes to picking games. What Jake Reed or George Koonce did in the '94 game has absolutely no bearing on what happens up there Sunday. But I get the point: that this Vikings team is built for the Dome, most believe, and it could be 40 degrees and rainy on Sunday.

For me, though, Karras' points on Grant and the Packers' offense in the first game really had me thinking. Winfield was such a thorn for Aaron Rogders in that game, and not having him — even though Karl Paymah played well Sunday at Pittsburgh — is a huge difference. Of course, the Packers will be without TE Jermichael Finley, who was a beast in Week Four, and WR Jordy Nelson, but I still think Rodgers can have a big game if the protection is good.

As for the Favre factor, I don't know how he'll react. If he sucks it in the way he did in Oakland on Monday night years ago following his dad's death, maybe the Vikings win and he's the story again. But if he lets his emotions get the best of him, we could see a playoff-caliber Favre performance, and those haven't been strong the past few years.

We get a chance to change our picks for the Handicapping Inner Circle later in the week. I just might invoke that privilege. Thank you, Doug, for showing me the other side.

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