The Minnesota Vikings are one of the teams that are looked at as legitimate favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season. They made a few defensive mistakes in their Week 1 meeting with the San Francisco 49ers, but they came out with the victory.
The Green Bay Packers seemed to be in disastrous shape at halftime of their opener with the Chicago Bears, as they trailed 17-0 at home and quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared to suffer a serious knee injury. However, appearances were deceiving, as Rodgers came out of the locker room with his teammates and led the Packers to a remarkable 24-23 come-from-behind victory.
Those two NFC North rivals will meet Sunday in a key early-season game at Lambeau Field. The Packers are 1.5-point favorites to get the edge on their longtime rivals, per OddsShark.
Kirk Cousins had a solid debut in his first game with the Vikings, completing 20 of 36 passes for 244 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. However, Cousins was not in top form, and there's every reason to believe he can be more explosive against the Packers and in upcoming games.
In addition to their new quarterback, the Vikings need second-year running back Dalvin Cook to show off his big-play ability as a runner and receiver. Cook was held to 40 yards on 16 carries, but he was a key factor in the passing game with six catches for 55 yards.
Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and tight end Kyle Rudolph represent an excellent group of core receivers, and it will be a challenge for the Packers to slow down this attack if Cousins and Cook raise their levels of play.
Rodgers pulled off a near-miracle in the Packers' 24-23 victory over the Bears Sunday night. The depression at Lambeau Field was quite thick at halftime, but when the quarterback refused to succumb to the pain in his knee, it spurred on the Packers.
Rodgers finished the game by completing 20 of 30 passes for 286 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. He led the Packers to three fourth-quarter touchdowns against a Chicago defense that looked dominant in the first half.
Randall Cobb and Davante Adams both contributed long TD receptions, and they represent the biggest threats to the Vikings' solid defense. Free safety Harrison Smith had seven tackles, one sack and one interception versus the 49ers.
Rodgers made a heroic recovery in the second half of the opener, but his status for the Week 2 game has not been determined. He told NBC's Michele Tafoya he would play against the Vikings, but pain or stiffness in the joint could impact the decision.
While the Packers have to feel good about their win over the Bears, beating the Vikings is another story. Look for Minnesota to come up with the win, whether Rodgers plays or not.
Week 2 Matchups, Predictions
Baltimore Ravens (-1.5, 44 O/U) at Cincinnati Bengals: Baltimore, 24-20
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5, 44 O/U): Atlanta, 31-24
Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints (-8, 50 O/U): New Orleans, 38-24
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (No Line): Houston, 17-13
Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins (-5, 46 O/U): Washington, 31-28
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5, 50 O/U): Kansas City, 28-24
Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5, 44 O/U) at Buffalo Bills: Los Angeles Chargers, 33-17
Miami Dolphins (-1.5) at New York Jets: New York Jets, 24-17
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-1.5): Minnesota, 24-17
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Philadelphia, 28-27
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-10): Los Angeles Rams, 28-14
Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (-3): San Francisco, 24-20
New England Patriots (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville, 31-17
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-4.5): Denver, 28-21
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 44 O/U): New York Giants, 24-19
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-3): Chicago, 24-20
New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Patriots had a challenging opener at home against the Houston Texans, and Bill Belichick's team came up with a solid effort in beating what could turn out to be a strong team by a 27-20 margin.
The defense responded to the challenge of quarterback Deshaun Watson and wideout DeAndre Hopkins, and that should build some confidence in a unit that ranked 29th in yards allowed and 30th in passing yards allowed per game last year.
If the Pats were able to hold Watson to 176 passing yards, they should be able to contain Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jaguars signal-caller also threw for 176 yards with one TD and an interception in his team's season-opening road win over the Giants.
The Jacksonville offense may not be the big issue for the Patriots in this game. It is their powerful defense, which includes pass-rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue and perhaps the best secondary in football, that will cause problems for Tom Brady.
The Jaguars will likely give most of their attention to stopping the Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski connection. That could open things up for wideout Phillip Dorsett, who caught seven passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Texans.
Jacksonville begins its home schedule against the team that beat it in the AFC title game, and look for the Jaguars to come forth with their best effort and find a way to win this game as slight home underdogs.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
The Bears are going to have to figure out a way to regroup after their shocking and painful collapse against the Packers. Rookie head coach Matt Nagy will get tested here because he is going to have to find a way to put that loss behind them and play their next 15 games without a hangover.
Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had a decent statistical game in completing 23 of 35 passes for 171 yards, but he looked unsure in the fourth quarter when the Packers were mounting their charge. Trubisky appears to have a couple of solid weapons in Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, but his best option is to put the ball in running back Jordan Howard's midsection and let him keep drives alive with his powerful running style.
The Seahawks came up on the short end of their opener, losing 27-24 on the road to the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns, and he gets support from running back Chris Carson, who had 51 rushing yards against the Broncos.
Chicago will ask big-play linebacker Khalil Mack to dominate. Mack had a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception for a touchdown in his first game with the Bears. Mack is one of the top defensive impact players in the league, and when he crashes the pocket, he makes teammates Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan and rookie Roquan Smith even more effective.
The Seahawks are competitive, but their defense has slipped quite a bit. Chicago finds a way to come up with the home victory and the cover.
All point spread and total numbers provided by OddsShark.