The desperate Green Bay Packers host the playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings on New Year’s Day, the 125th meeting between the two teams since 1961.
After losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in November, the Packers marinated with a 4-8 record, nearing practical elimination from postseason contention. But then the Wisconsin team dug deep, rattled off three straight wins, and now must topple the Vikings to continue their unlikely quest for a playoff berth.
Green Bay must beat the Vikings in Week 17, the Detroit Lions in Week 18, and get one loss from the Washington Commanders to snag the NFC’s No. 7 seed.
Vikings Will Learn a Lot Sunday before Packers Game Even Begins
The Vikings, too, have some playoff-related items on the line Sunday and will actually learn a lot about postseason positioning before their 3:25 pm CST date with the Packers even kicks off.
Saints at Eagles
There is a pipe dream from some Vikings loyalists that Kevin O’Connell’s ballclub could still seize the No. 1 seed in the NFC. For that to happen, the Eagles must lose this weekend to the New Orleans Saints and next Sunday versus the New York Giants.
The Eagles will be led at QB1 this week by Gardner Minshew, a downgrade from Jalen Hurts, the usual starter. With the “any given Sunday” mantra in effect, it is not impossible for the Saints to spoil the Eagles fun, especially with Minshew in the saddle.
Philadelphia plays at noon CST, so Vikings coaches and players will know if the No. 1 seed is still alive. If the Eagles lose, the Vikings will have added encouragement to swallow the Packers — on top of the added incentive of Green Bay as Minnesota’s natural rival.
Browns at Commanders
On the Packers side of operations, well, Aaron Rodgers and friends need just one Commanders loss. And the Commanders play Sunday before Packers-Vikings. Green Bay skipper Matt LaFleur said this week he’ll try “not to allow” his players from seeing the Commanders game result, but good luck with that in The Digital Age.
After Week 17, Washington plays Dallas at home, and the Cowboys could be resting starters, potentially locked into the NFC’s No. 5 seed no matter what. So, the Packers flat-out do not want the Commanders to win over Deshaun Watson’s Browns.
If the Browns are triumphant in the noon slot, the Packers probability of reaching the postseason dips before they set foot on the field to play the Vikings.
Otherwise, the Packers would need the New York Giants to lose on Sunday — they also play at noon versus the Indianapolis Colts — and in Week 18 against the aforementioned Eagles.
Green Bay is favored by three to defeat Minnesota. The Vikings can fall no further than the No. 3 seed in the NFC but can climb to No. 1 or 2 depending on the 49ers and Eagles outcomes.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).