The NFC North division title and the No. 3 seed in the conference is on the line when the Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. While both teams have already secured berths in the postseason, the ramifications will be huge: The winner will host a wild card team in the first round of the playoffs while the loser will hit the road as either the fifth or sixth seed.
The Packers stopped a three-game skid with a 30-13 victory at Minnesota on Nov. 22, but they were manhandled in a 38-8 beatdown at Arizona last week. “We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard and play better,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Everybody has to play better.” Following a stretch of three losses in four games, the Vikings moved back into contention for the division title with lopsided wins over Chicago and the New York Giants. Minnesota has won only once in its last 12 meetings at Lambeau Field.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: The Packers are 3-point home faves, the same as where it opened. The total is down to 45.5 from the opening 47.
Vikings – RB Adrian Peterson (Probable, ankle), DT Linval Joseph (Questionable, toe), T Matt Kalil (Questionable, leg), C John Sullivan (Questionable, back), WR Charles Johnson (Questionable, ankle), DE Scott Crichton (I-R, concussion), S Antone Exum (I-R, ribs), LB Audie Cole (I-R, ankle), CB Jabari Price (I-R, shoulder), DT Shamar Stephen (I-R, toe), T Phil Loadholt (I-R, Achilles), LB Casey Matthews (I-R, hip).
Packers – RB Eddie Lacy (Questionable, ribs), DT Mike Daniels (Questionable, groin), CB Sam Shields (Questionable, concussion), T David Bakhtiari (Questionable, knee), LB Jayrone Elliott (Questionable, quadricep), TE Justin Perillo (Questionable, hamstring), DT B.J. Raji (Questionable, head), LS Brett Goode (I-R, knee), WR Ty Montgomery (I-R, ankle), S Sean Richardson (I-R, neck), DT Josh Boyd (I-R, ankle), LB Sam Barrington (I-R, ankle), WR Jordy Nelson (I-R, knee).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Vikings (-2) + Packers (-2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Packers -3.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid-20s with wind blowing across the field around eight mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Vikings are 9-1 SU against teams that aren?t going to the playoffs; just 1-4 against teams that would be in if it started today. The lone win came vs. KC when the Chiefs were 1-5! The Packers offensive line woes were on full display in Arizona. Aaron Rodgers got sacked nine times and the Pack offense gained a truly awful 2.9 yards per play in the 30 point defeat.” Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
The Packers don’t have cheerleaders, so here’s a double-dose of the Vikings squad:
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (10-5 SU, 12-3 ATS, 4-10-1 O/U): While Green Bay was embarrassed by the Cardinals, Minnesota lost a narrow 23-20 decision at Arizona in Week 14 before destroying the Bears and Giants by a combined 53 points. Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has thrown for six TD passes and zero interceptions over his last three games, but he was sacked six times and Adrian Peterson was held to 45 yards on 13 carries in the first meeting against the Packers. Minnesota ranks sixth in the league with an average of 19.3 points allowed, but it is vulnerable against the run and gave up 100 yards rushing to Eddie Lacy in November.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS, 5-10 O/U): Green Bay appeared to be getting back on track after averaging 28.3 points during a three-game winning streak, but surrendered nine sacks and managed only 178 total yards in the crushing defeat at Arizona. Rodgers had two fumbles returned for touchdowns while posting his second-lowest totals in completions (15) and yards (151) while failing to connect on 60 percent of his passes for the seventh time in 10 games. Lacy has been held to 83 yards in his last two games while leading receiver Randall Cobb has eight receptions for only 55 yards in that same span.
* Over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings in Green Bay.
* Vikings are 1-5 ATS in their last six meetings in Green Bay.
* Vikings are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games.
* Under is 5-0 in Packers last five home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-eight percent of Covers users are backing the Packers.