On Sunday U.S. Bank Stadium will officially open its gates to the 2016 regular season as the Vikings host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. We scoped around the web to see what the experts are predicting for the highly anticipated divisional matchup.
Dude, this is a matchup. It instantly reminds of some great '90s tilts between the *Vikings' defense (coached by DC Tony Dungy) and three-time MVP Brett Favre. Favre broke Dan Marino's career touchdown record of 420 in 2007 while leading the Packers to a win in Minnesota. Of course, Favre eventually ended up playing for the Vikes, and he and Aaron Rodgers squared off in Minneapolis in a fun game in 2009 (although Packers fans wouldn't mind forgetting that whole episode). Now the Vikings are opening up their new digs, which are beautiful. So with all this quarterback talk, and the 2016 Minnesota defense being every bit as good those John Randle squads of yore, this matchup comes down to ... Big Ed. Lacy ran right through the Vikings' defense in Minnesota last year, and the Packers' back looked good last week despite average numbers. If he gets going, Green Bay's pass rushers get more rest time. Which means no fun for the Vikes' quarterback. What a game. *#GBvsMIN
You know my feelings on Aaron Rodgers. Big fan.
Let's talk about Green Bay's defense, which is woefully overlooked. I can't figure out why after holding Chuckin' Blake Bortles to 23 points and causing a turnover and a few sloppy throws.
The Packers' young secondary, led by Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, is good. Like, very good. Like, they-can-give-Green-Bay-its-best-defense-since-they-won-it-all-in-2010 good.
So they'll stick to that championship-winning formula: Rodgers gets a lead and the defensive backfield protects it. Shaun Hill won't get pulled, but he also won't make a "wow" throw against these ball hawks. You warmed up for Week 3, Kyle Rudolph?
Packers — Chris Simms, Bleacher Report
The first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium is the show-stopping matchup the Vikings wanted: a nationally televised duel with their biggest rival. Ideally, they would have had Bridgewater to duel with *Aaron Rodgers, but their ace in the hole here actually could be Mike Zimmer, a defensive mind who has won Rodgers' respect after stifling him through the years. The emotions of the night, not to mention the noise in the building, should help fuel the Vikings' defense, and Minnesota will grind out a close victory. *
*Who starts at quarterback [for] the Vikings? Coach Mike Zimmer won’t say. I bet it will be Sam Bradford. The Vikings were really good on defense against the Titans, but Aaron Rodgers is a different story. The Packers will find a way late to win it. *
The Vikings relied on two defensive touchdowns to beat the Titans last week. They won’t have that kind of good fortune against a much better Packers offense, and they’ll lose their first game at their new stadium.
It’s a tattoo game in Minnesota, where the outcome of the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium will make its way onto the home team’s permanent record, for better or worse. Bet the worse.
Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine generates predictions and box scores for every NFL game for the coming week. The highly sophisticated algorithms simulate every play of every game to produce each team's likelihood to win. Each matchup is simulated 501 times.
Vikings Win Likelihood Percentage: 45.4 percent, Average Score: Vikings 20.8, Packers 24.6 *— *WhatIfSports.com
FiveThirtyEight’s 2015 NFL forecast uses an Elo-based model to calculate each team’s chances of advancing to the playoffs and winning Super Bowl 50. Playoff probabilities are based on 20,000 simulations of the season and will update after each game.
Pre-game win probabilities: Vikings 58 percent *— *FiveThirtyEight.com
1 of 5 experts pick the Vikings, USA Today