The 12-3 Minnesota Vikings and the 7-8 divisional rival Green Bay Packers are set to face off on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Minnesota is coming off yet another thrilling victory (yes, again) at home over the New York Giants, 27-24. It was their second consecutive win. Green Bay is on a three-game winning streak and defeated the Miami Dolphins 26-20 on the road.
Green Bay leads the all-time series 57-64-2 but has lost three out of the last four matchups. Can Minnesota complete the season sweep for only the fifth time since 1993? They have a good shot, but winning in Green Bay is never easy, especially in the cold. Divisional games are usually not leisurely either, and Green Bay has been playing better lately.
Prediction for Vikings at Packers + 2003 Flashback
In 2003, Minnesota won 30-25 at Lambeau Field in Week 1. Daunte Culpepper went 15/30 for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Moe Williams rushed for 80 yards on 22 carries. Randy Moss caught nine passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.
“I think since my rookie year, the excitement we had in the locker room is something I’ll never forget,” Moss said. “And what happened on the field I’ll never forget. It’s what drives me to come here and do good.”
On defense, Corey Chavous recorded two of the team’s four interceptions. Linebacker Chris Claiborne recorded a sack and a game-high nine tackles.
For Green Bay, Brett Favre went 25/41 for 248 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. Ahman Green rushed for 53 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. He also caught seven passes for 62 yards. Javon Walker caught five passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. Robert Ferguson caught six passes for 53 yards.
On defense, Na’il Diggs recorded a team-high eight tackles.
Minnesota held on after taking a 27-3 lead. They started the season 6-0 before missing the playoffs at 9-7 (the Nate Poole touchdown will always be one of the worst moments in team history). They became the first team in NFL history to miss the playoffs after starting 6-0. Green Bay won the division at 10-6. Minnesota lost to Green Bay later in the season at the Metrodome.
Vikings vs. Packers (Week 1, 2003) Classic Highlights – YouTube
This game is huge for both sides. Minnesota will still have a shot at the first seed in the NFC if the Philadelphia Eagles fall at home to the New Orleans Saints. It is unlikely they will pass the Eagles, but the season has proven how crazy this league is. The San Francisco 49ers are also only a game behind Minnesota for the second seed.
Green Bay is still in the playoff hunt, but a loss would hurt their chances of getting there. On the other hand, sweeping their biggest rivals and damaging their playoff hopes would be a great start to 2023 for Vikings fans. The players would also enjoy that, especially Za’Darius Smith, who spent the previous three seasons with the Packers.
As usual, the biggest key to beating the Packers would be getting after Aaron Rodgers. Although he is not the same Rodgers we have seen every year since he became a starter in 2008, he still is a good quarterback, and the Vikings defense has been a disappointment all season. They have made plenty of clutch plays this season, no doubt, but overall the unit has been a disappointment. Perhaps they will have a strong performance this game.
Green Bay’s defense has performed better, but Minnesota’s offense has been effective lately, especially quarterback Kirk Cousins. It should be another close game, regardless of who wins. Given it is a cold-weather game, it may not be too high scoring. Dalvin Cook could very well see 25 carries or more.
This game could go either way and should be very neck and neck (sorry, Vikings fans, you will very likely have to witness another close game).
Prediction: Vikings win 20-17.