When: Sunday at 3:25pm Lambeau Field
TV, Radio: Ch. 4, 100.3-FM
Line: Packers by 3½
Seeds vs. Survival: The Vikings (12-3) dominated NFC North two weeks ago, but are playing for the second seed (and an outside chance at home field advantage) in the playoffs. After his 4-8 start, the Packers returned to playoff position with three straight wins. They probably need to win the last two, and the commanders need to lose one to join. The Vikings can effectively end their rival’s season with a victory over Rambo.
Jefferson chases record: Justin Jefferson broke Calvin Johnson’s one-season NFL receiving yards record by requiring 209 yards in the Vikings’ last two games. If he makes a special day on Sunday, he can break the same record for games played that Johnson had to set. He took advantage of a huge hole in his coverage in his 184-yard Packers zone in the Week 1 victory. Jefferson said he expects Green Bay to make different plans for him this time around.
Smith returns to Rambo: Edge rusher Zadarius Smith has made no secret of his desire to face the Packers after the team ditch him for the 2021 season. He had one of the Vikings’ four sacks in their season-opening victory over the Packers. Smith, who needs more half sacks to reach , and secure a $750,000 incentive in his contract, will have to brace up.
two important combinations
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Packers CB Jaile Alexander: The Vikings expected Alexander to overshadow Jefferson in Week 1. The Pro Bowl corner wanted a matchup. The Packers had mostly kept Alexander on one side of the field, but now they were able to move him against Jefferson. Jefferson can claim Rambo in the first big day of his career on the field.
Vikings defense vs. Packers RB Aaron Jones: The running back is playing through knee and ankle injuries, and even when he’s healthy, the Packers’ plans for him are sometimes puzzling. If healthy enough for a bigger workload after only eight touches last week, helping the Packers’ offense productivity when rookie receiver Christian Watson is questionable to play due to a hip injury can do.
One stat that matters
9: Back-to-back games in which the Packers forced at least one turnover. This streak is the longest active run in the NFL.
The Vikings win if…
They avoided turnovers against an opportunistic Packers defense, found space to open Jefferson despite increased attention from Green Bay’s secondary, and followed a productive passing rush of the past two weeks. The Packers will bring former All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari back from appendicitis surgery, but if Smith and Daniel Hunter had success against Aaron Rodgers in the season opener If they can achieve similar success, the Vikings can win.
The Packers win if…
Playing Watson, Green Bay gets some big plays from a revived rookie since dropping a 75-yard touchdown pass against the Vikings in Week 1. The Packers also need to protect Rodgers more effectively than his September. A productive pass put together without Rashan Gary could find a special team spark if his rushing and returning his man’s Keisean Nixon were sidelined due to a groin injury.
The Packers won three in a row to revive playoff hopes. They are desperate and will have an energetic crowd on their side for the late afternoon start. But if the Vikings can limit the turnovers that have kept the Packers season alive, Green Bay may not score enough points to keep up. Vikings win last week in Miami — what else? — something close. Vikings 27, Packers 23