Vikings down Packers, 20-13
The Vikings beat the Packers Sunday night to claim the NFC North division title and secure a home playoff game in round one. The win also means all three NFC North teams won in Lambeau but lost their home games with the Packers.
Neither offense in this game was able to do much of anything. The Vikings had a total of just 242 yards, including a 41 yard run on a fake punt by Adam Thielen that set up a field goal. Thielen also had a second long run, and excluding him, the rest of the Vikings rushed for just 84 yards on 25 carries. Teddy Bridgewater had a lackluster night, not even reaching the 100-yard mark throwing with one interception on an ill-advised left handed attempt as he was trying to avoid a sack. He was sacked a total of three times on the night. Adrian Peterson scored the lone offensive touchdown.
The Packers offense continued to struggle immensely as well. Aaron Rodgers threw for 291 yards on 44 attempts, but had a costly interception late in the fourth quarter. As he was scrambling, Rodgers attempted to hit James Jones in the corner of the end zone, but an inaccurate throw was picked off by Xavier Rhodes. Rodgers also had a fumble that Vikings defensive back Captain Munnerlyn returned for a touchdown. The run game was ineffective, as they averaged just 2.9 yards as a team on 26 rushes.
The Vikings got the win and secured their first division title since 2009, a huge accomplishment and an impressive two year turnaround by coach Mike Zimmer. Unfortunately, they may have also drawn the toughest first round opponent in either conference as they will host the Seattle Seahawks at 1:05 pm ET next Sunday. The Seahawks finished the season on an 8-2 run, including blowout wins against the Cardinals, Browns, Ravens, and the Vikings themselves. That was a home game as well for the Vikings, but they were thoroughly outmatched and lost 38-7. The Vikings have played well since that game, winning three of their last four, and will need to play their best game of the season to beat Seattle.
Should the Vikings win, that would set up a second rematch as they would travel to Arizona, where they lost 23-20 just four weeks ago.
The Packers lost out on the division title as they limp into the playoffs with two straight losses and a combined 21 points scored in those two games. The offense hasn’t looked sharp for much of the second half of the season, especially against playoff caliber opponents the last two weeks. The usually stout home-field advantage they have had in years past has also been shaken, losing to all three division opponents at home this year. Still, the Packers may find themselves in a better position than the Vikings, as they will travel to Washington for their round one playoff matchup, the final wild card game at 4:40 pm ET on Sunday. While Washington does have the worst record of the NFC playoff teams at 9-7, they were 6-2 at home this season and are riding a four game winning streak into the playoffs. This will be the first time these teams have played each other this season.
If the Packers are able to win on the road, their match-up will be determined by the result of the Vikings game. A Vikings win would send the Packers to Carolina, while a Seahawks win means they would play in Arizona.