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Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings: Prediction, preview, pick to win
Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers looks to throw against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on October 8, 2017. File photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-1) AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS (3-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT

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KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, U.S. Bank Stadium. TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 112th regular-season meeting. Packers lead all-time series, 59-50-2. The Vikings have won two of the past three, although the Packers won 38-25 last December.

RELATED Minnesota Vikings: QB spot remains uncertain as Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater heal

KEYS TO THE GAME: Quarterback Case Keenum starts for Vikings after last week's attempt to rush Sam Bradford (knee) resulted in his being listed out Friday. So the Vikings really can't afford to get into a high-scoring game with the Packers.

Even with Bradford playing well last Christmas Eve, he and the Vikings' defense were controlled by Aaron Rodgers in a high-scoring loss. A big difference this year is the defense is healthy and still fresh. If Keenum can continue playing turnover-free football and Jerick McKinnon can have another productive game running the ball, the Vikings will be able to reduce the number of snaps that Rodgers gets.

The run defense will then have to make sure Green Bay's newfound running game doesn't get going. If that happens, the Vikings have no chance of stopping Rodgers. If the run defense is stout, there will be more third-and-long situations. That's when the home crowd will make a difference, especially with the Packers' offensive line so beat up.

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RELATED Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs sit out practice again for Minnesota Vikings

The Packers might get back left tackle David Bakhtiari, who has been out since the opener with a hamstring injury, and running back Ty Montgomery (ribs).

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Vikings WRs Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen vs. Packers CBs. Diggs ranks fifth in the NFL in receiving yards and Thielen ranks sixth. Green Bay could be without top cornerback Kevin King, who is still recovering from a concussion suffered Sunday in Dallas. The Vikings could have the upper hand here. Last Christmas Eve, Thielen had a career game, catching 12 balls for 202 yards and two touchdowns in a loss. The Packers won't double Thielen because Diggs can be even more dangerous on the other side if he plays after missing practice this week with a groin injury.

RELATED WR Davante Adams' quick recovery aids Green Bay Packers

--Packers OTs vs. Vikings DEs Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Minnesota has one of the better defensive-end tandems in football. Green Bay got a boost last week with the return of RT Bryan Bulaga. But the Packers are still eagerly awaiting the return of LT David Bakhtiari.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

GREEN BAY PACKERS

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--Out: S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), LB Joe Thomas (ankle)

--Doubtful: LB Ahmad Brooks (back), CB Kevin King (concussion)

--Questionable: T David Bakhtiari (hamstring), T Bryan Bulaga (ankle), CB Davon House (quadricep), RB Ty Montgomery (ribs) .

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

--Out: QB Sam Bradford (knee), WR Stefon Diggs (groin), G Nick Easton (calf)

--Questionable: S Andrew Sendejo (groin)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon. He had 146 yards from scrimmage in Monday's win over the Bears. That's the second-highest total of his four-year career. He had 95 yards rushing and 51 receiving. Throw in another 51 yards on kickoff returns and he had 197 all-purpose yards on 23 touches. He did fumble a kickoff out of bounds, but he also held on to the ball for as many hard shots as he took from the Bears. With Dalvin Cook out for the season and Latavius Murray continuing to underachieve, McKinnon is the only glimmer of excitement at the running back position.

FAST FACTS: Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers passed for 221 yards with three TDs and no INTs last week. He has 2,446 passing yards (271.8 per game), 20 TDs and two INTs in nine career games at Minnesota. ... Packers rookie RB Aaron Jones rushed for 125 yards and a TD in Week 5, his first career 100-yard game. ... Green Bay WR Jordy Nelson leads the NFL with six TD catches. He has 14 catches for 227 yards (113.5 per game) and three TDs in the past two meetings with the Vikings. ... LB Clay Matthews aims for his fourth game in a row vs. Minnesota with a sack. ... Vikings QB Sam Bradford has 2,395 passing yards (266.1 per game), 14 TDs and two INTs in nine home games with Minnesota. ... QB Case Keenum has 588 passing yards (294 per game), three TDs and no INTs in two home starts with Minnesota. ... WR Stefon Diggs aims for his third game in a row vs. Green Bay with a TD catch. In his past three games at home, he has 20 receptions for 364 yards (121.3 per game) and four TDs. ... DE Everson Griffen is tied for third in the NFL with six sacks.

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PREDICTION: Green Bay has won three straight, including a last-minute comeback victory in Dallas last week. The Vikings won't have the answers either as the Packers remain on a roll.

OUR PICK: Packers, 32-20.

--Ellen Port

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