Monday Night Football Preview

Packers at Vikings

Each week, TheLines will provide a daily betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Monday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best bets.

The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings will face off U.S. Bank Stadium for a Week 16 NFC North showdown Monday night. The game will mark the 119th meeting in a series that the Packers lead 61-54-3. The most recent game between the teams unfolded in Week 2 of this season, when the Packers defeated the Vikings by a 21-16 score at Lambeau Field.

MNF odds and analysis

The Vikings originally opened as four-point favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook late last week, and that number has now been boosted up to 5.5 points as of Monday afternoon. That’s significant movement under any circumstance, but especially considering:

  • This is a late-season, high-stakes divisional matchup.
  • Dalvin Cook has been ruled out for the Vikings.
  • The Packers own the better overall record (11-3 to 10-4), and Green Bay prevailed in the one prior meeting between the teams this season.

The projected 47-point total qualifies on the higher side for a Week 16 slate that features a trio of games with sub-40-point totals and a fourth at 41.5 points. The first 2019 meeting between these clubs resulted in just 37 total points being scored, and with Cook missing this game, Minnesota will very likely be at less than full capacity offensively. Then, the Vikings are allowing an NFC-low 14.2 points per home game while the Packers are averaging 20.8 points per away contest, which ranks them just 19th out of 32 teams.

Vikings vs. Packers picks and predictions

Watch as Matt Brown breaks down this matchup from top to bottom, offering his thoughts on the moneyline, spread and total.

MNF promotion – First Touchdown Scorer prop

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Packers vs. Vikings game matchup

This late-season NFC North showdown is one of those relatively rare cases where a game and its stakes set up exactly as the schedule makes would have ideally envisioned it back last offseason. The 11-3 Packers and 10-4 Vikings are clashing with Green Bay just a win away from clinching the division title and remaining alive for at least a No. 2 seed in the conference. Meanwhile, the Vikings could potentially clinch their postseason ticket with a victory here. However, they’ll already be assured of a postseason berth if the Rams lose or tie their game with the 49ers on Saturday night.

Each team kept itself in strong position with Week 15 wins. Green Bay toppled the Bears by a 21-13 score at Lambeau Field, officially eliminating Chicago from playoff contention in the process. The Vikings rolled over the Chargers out west by a 39-15 margin, but they also saw Cook go down the shoulder injury that now has him trending toward missing this matchup. Each team comes in with impressive home/road marks as they apply to Monday night’s game – Green Bay has a 4-2 record when traveling while Minnesota is a perfect 6-0 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

As mentioned earlier, oddsmakers have set a fairly high total for this game. For the Packers, their chances of doing their part to contribute to that prognostication coming true are likely going to be best through the pass. The Vikes have allowed just 91.3 rushing yards per home contest. That ranks them sixth among 32 teams. In turn, they’ve yielded 223.3 passing yards per home game. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, whose play has slipped somewhat overall this year even when at full health, will come into this contest having recently nursed both calf and ankle injuries. Although he received clearance Thursday all the way around, he could still be somewhat limited. However, Aaron Rodgers will need to step up his play to take advantage. Green Bay has averaged just 183.3 passing yards per road game, fifth-lowest figure in the league.

For Minnesota, a Cook and/or Mattison absence naturally weakens their run game to a varying degree. Cook’s lack of availability would naturally have the biggest impact. Mike Boone did a fine job subbing in against the Chargers in Week 15. But, it could naturally be a very different story this time around against a team like the Packers with much more at stake and that’s had an opportunity to prepare for the possibility of Boone starting. The matchup against Green Bay’s run defense has usually been a favorable one, but much more so at Lambeau. The Pack has actually been much stouter against the run, shaving 30.2 yards per game off the 133.9 they give up per home contest.

On the passing front, Kirk Cousins finally got Adam Thielen back last week after a pair of multi-game absences due to a hamstring injury. Thielen had just three receptions for 27 yards versus Los Angeles, but of overriding importance was his ability to log 33 snaps without setbacks. That leaves him poised for a potential full-time role in this key game, a development that would certainly help keep the attention off position mate Stefon Diggs. The Packers are seemingly ripe for the picking on paper also – they allow 274.7 passing yards per road contest.

MNF betting breakdown

The Packers lead the all-time series with the Vikings by a 61-54-3 margin. Although Green Bay won the most recent game in the series back in Week 2, the Vikings have prevailed in five of the last eight contests between the teams overall, with one tie also included in that span.

The Packers are 9-5 (64.3 percent) against the spread this season, including 4-2 (66.7 percent) as an away team. Green Bay is also 3-1 (75.0 percent) ATS in NFC North matchups. Then, the Over is 6-8 (42.9 percent) in the Packers’ games this season, including 3-3 in their away games.

The Vikings are 8-6 (57.1 percent) against the spread this season, including 4-2 (66.7 percent) as a home team. Minnesota is also 2-2 ATS in NFC North matchups. Then, the Over is 8-6 (57.1 percent) in the Vikings’ games this season, including 3-3 in their home games.

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How to watch Monday Night Football

ESPN holds the rights to Monday Night Football and will cover 17 games from Week 1 through Week 16.

Week 1 sees the Houston Texans take on the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 7:10 p.m. Eastern Monday, Sept. 9. The Denver Broncos will then face the AFC West-rival Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at 10:20 p.m. Eastern to close the first week of NFL action. Games can be viewed weekly from Sept. 16 through Dec. 23 at 8:15 p.m. Eastern. There is no MNF in Week 17 due to potential playoff implications the following week.

Games can be streamed on the go on ESPN’s website or WatchESPN app with a cable or satellite subscription. Streaming services such as Sling TV also carry ESPN in many of their subscription packages.

Monday Night Football television ratings rebounded in 2018, averaging 11.6 million viewers per game. The number was up eight percent from 2017 and two percent from 2016. It was the most-watched series on Monday nights.

The Los Angeles Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 (Nov. 19) averaged 16.7 million viewers for the highest-rated MNF game in two years.

MNF betting tips

How to bet MNF like a sharp

Monday Night Football can be the most highly-anticipated game of any given week in the NFL throughout the season. The extra day of preparation, media coverage and overall hype brings more attention to every aspect of the game.

As seen with the Rams vs. Chiefs thriller in Week 11 last year, all of this can bring out the best between the two teams. By contrast, the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills 25-6 just three weeks prior. The New Orleans Saints then beat the Carolina Panthers 12-9 in Week 15.

MNF can turn out to be a dud just as easily as the best game of the week. Ten MNF games last season failed to total 50 points, with the Chiefs and Rams each hitting the number on their own. Thirteen games failed to hit 50 points in 2017 and 11 fell below the number in 2016. Pay attention to the numbers surrounding the specific matchup itself, not just the standalone primetime TV spot.

The extra day of rest can allow players to return from injury, but they may also be forcing themselves back to the field before they’re truly healthy due to the added attention on the game. Look at injury reports and have an idea of what kind of a role a star player will be able to handle.

The Monday Night spot can also create discrepancies in how much rest the two teams have had. Taking the most rested team (the one with the longest amount of time since its last game) can often be a good place to find some value at the sportsbooks, especially on the spread.

Never bet a game solely because it’s the final matchup of the week and is the best thing to watch on a Monday Night. Be ready to sit it out completely and wait for next week if there’s no value popping out at books.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Monday Night Football start?

As always, Monday Night Football debuts with a Week 1 doubleheader Monday, Sept. 9. The Texans take on the Saints at 7:10 p.m. Eastern before the Broncos and Raiders hook up in an AFC West rivalry meeting at 10:20 p.m. Eastern.

Every other MNF game from Week 2 through Week 16 will begin at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

How to stream Monday Night Football?

The ESPN website and WatchESPN app are the easiest options for those with cable or satellite subscriptions. Many streaming services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Hulu include ESPN in most of their plans.

What is the highest-scoring Monday Night Football game ever?

The Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs in Week 11 of the 2018 season was the highest-scoring MNF game of all time. The 105 combined points topped the 95 points scored by the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in 1983.

Who are the MNF announcers?

Joe Tessitore took over play-by-play duties from Sean McDonough in 2018 and will return for a second year. Booger McFarland will move from the ‘BoogerMobile’ to the booth as the color commentator, while Jason Witten returned to the Dallas Cowboys to play tight end after one year in the booth.

John Parry takes over as the rules analyst, and Lisa Salters returns as the sideline reporter.

Suzy Kolber appears as a studio host with former players Steve Young, Randy Moss and Louis Riddick.

Who was the original Monday Night Football broadcast crew?

The original MNF broadcast crew on ABC in 1970 was made up of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. Many cycled through the crew before Al Michaels took over as play-by-play commentator from 1986 through 2005. His color analysts included Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden. Mike Tirico assumed play-by-play duties with Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya filling out the crew when ESPN took over the rights in 2006. Jon Gruden replaced Kornheiser in 2009 until he returned to the sidelines as head coach of the Oakland Raiders last season.

Who sings the Monday Night Football theme song?

Country music star Hank Williams Jr. sings the MNF theme titled “All My Rowdy Friends are Here on Monday Night.”