2021 NFL Playoff Picture, Standings: Packers face Vikings on Sunday Night Football, look to clinch conference title


The Green Bay Packers are set to host the Minnesota Vikings in a division matchup that has important implications on the NFL playoff picture. In order for the Packers to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC (and secure home-field advantage), they need a win on Sunday Night Football, while the Vikings need the win to keep their postseason hopes alive. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America. The match-up will also be available via live stream on Peacock.

Entering Week 17, the Packers are one of six NFL teams that have clinched a postseason berth but they are the only team of the six to have just three losses. With a win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15 that secured the NFC North title, the Packers have positioned themselves as one of the best teams in the league. The division title is the third straight for Green Bay and the eighth time they have won the division crown in the last 11 seasons.

The Packers have faced challenges in recent weeks though. According to the NFL Network, over 100 players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. The Packers have had multiple players land on the list recently, including Amari Rodgers, linebacker Ty Summers, offensive lineman Ben Braden, outside linebacker Tipa Galeai and practice squad defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh. On the plus side, wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Randall Cobb returned to practice this week, as well as cornerback Kevin King. The virus has been an issue for both teams, with the Vikings announcing today the QB Kirk Cousins would miss Sunday’s game with COVID-19.

RELATED: When do the 2022 NFL playoffs start: Dates, schedule, TV channels, live streams, format

While the Packers have won four straight games, the victories have not come easily. Despite having a 14-point lead against a Ravens team in Week 15 that was without star QB Lamar Jackson, the Packers only managed to hang on for a 31-30 win thanks to a failed two-point conversion by the Ravens in the final minute. Last week, a clutch interception by Packers CB Rasul Douglas with 43 seconds left in the game shut down the Cleveland Browns’ comeback and allowed Green Bay to hang on for a 24-22 win.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are looking to stay undefeated against the Packers this season as they edged Green Bay, 34-31, in the last meeting between the two teams in Week 11. The Vikings have played in 14 one-score games this season, which is tied for a league record, and they are 6-8 in those contests. Since defeating the Packers by a narrow margin, the Vikings have posted a 2-3 record and they occupy the No. 8 seed in the NFC entering Week 17, just one spot out of playoff contention. Minnesota needs to win in order to keep its postseason chances alive.

The weather at Lambeau Field on Sunday night will provide a frigid backdrop to this crucial matchup. The temperature at kickoff is expected to be about 5 degrees, according to weather.com. Winds are predicted to range from 5-10 mph, with the wind chill at about minus-10. The Packers have not won a game in which the temperature was five degrees or colder since the 1996 NFC Championship against the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has history on his side though as he is 26-4 in regular season games played at home in the months of December and January.

RELATED: Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers: Weather forecast for Sunday night’s game

NBC News political correspondent Steve Kornacki is back on Football Night in America to trade election result breakdowns for NFL playoff picture scenarios. Kornacki will join the show for the remainder of the regular season and will be a part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Super Bowl LVI from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13.

Week 17 Conference-Clinching Scenarios for Packers

The Packers could clinch the No. 1 seed on Sunday night if the following things happen:

  • Cowboys lose to Cardinals
  • Packers defeat Vikings

If both of the above scenarios do not happen, the Packers will have to wait until the final week of the season, in which they play the Detroit Lions, to try to clinch the No. 1 seed. The Packers own the best record in the conference as the Cowboys, Buccaneers and Rams all enter Sunday at 11-4. But if the Cowboys win and the Packers lose Week 17, the Packers will no longer control their own path to the top seed – they’d need a win Week 18 plus a Dallas loss Week 18 to get that coveted top spot.

Week 17 Playoff-Clinching Scenarios for Vikings

Minnesota can be eliminated from postseason contention Sunday with a win by Philadelphia OR Atlanta on Sunday, paired with a loss to Green Bay. The Vikings need help to keep themselves in contention. If the Saints and Eagles lose Sunday, and the Vikings can clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Eagles, then Minnesota can clinch a playoff berth with wins in their final two games. It would be the fourth postseason appearance for Minnesota in the eight seasons of the Mike Zimmer era.

RELATED: Week 17 NFL playoff picture: Two spots still up for grabs in the NFC

Week 17 NFL Picks and Power Rankings

Mike Florio and the team at ProFootballTalk have broken down their picks and power rankings for Week 17. They have Aaron Rodgers and the 12-3 Green Bay Packers at the top of the list. Click here to see where the rest of the league falls as the playoff race tightens.

Current 2021 NFL Playoff picture

2021 AFC Standings

Tennessee Titans (11-5) – clinched division title

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) – clinched division title

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – clinched division title

Buffalo Bills (10-6) – clinched playoff berth

New England Patriots (10-6) – clinched playoff berth

Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

On the bubble:

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)

Miami Dolphins (8-8)

Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

Cleveland Browns (7-8)

Denver Broncos (7-8)

2021 NFC Standings

Green Bay Packers (12-3) – clinched division title

Los Angeles Rams (12-4) – clinched playoff berth

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) – clinched division title

Dallas Cowboys (11-4) – clinched division title

Arizona Cardinals (10-5) – clinched playoff berth

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

San Francisco 49ers (8-7)

On the bubble:

Minnesota Vikings (7-8)

New Orleans Saints (7-8)

Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

For all the latest fantasy football news and insight, visit NBC Sports Edge.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for breaking news, updates, and much more!

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft CB Rankings: Devon Witherspoon highlights loaded draft class


The 2023 NFL Draft is growing nearer, with just weeks remaining until teams make selections that could alter the future of their franchise forever.

A solid secondary is crucial to any team’s defensive prowess, and for the teams looking to tighten up in coverage, this year’s draft is the one to do so.

The 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class is an incredibly deep one, but which corner will be first off the board? Chris Simms unveiled his 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback rankings this week on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, posting Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon at the top of his list of corners in this year’s crop.

But trailing Witherspoon very closely are four other potential NFL superstars, with Simms ranking Michigan’s DJ Turner at No. 2, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez at No. 3, Maryland’s Deonte Banks at No. 4 and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo at No. 5.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27, and end on Saturday, April 29. The first round will take place on Thursday with rounds two and three airing on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday. Click here for Simms’ quarterback rankings,and here for his list of top wide receivers.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Simms’ Top Five CB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tier One

1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

2. DJ Turner, Michigan

3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Tier Two

4. Deonte Banks, Maryland

Tier Three

5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

RELATED: 2023 NFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 7

Simms Breaks Down 2023 Draft CB Rankings

The following are highlights from Simms’ CB draft rankings. For Simms’ in-depth analysis, read below for a breakdown on each prospect and be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

No. 1: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

What Simms said: “This guy is must-see TV. He’s up there with one of the most twitchy, sudden people I’ve ever seen in my life to the point where when he takes off, you’re like, ‘Wait, is that real? Did he really get to full speed in half a step?’ … Bump or off, both are phenomenol —  it’s rare to have that. He’s got very good play strength for a guy that’s 5’11” and a half at 181 lbs. He doesn’t know that, he thinks he’s 220 … It’s efficient and easy. He’s sudden and can see the ability to accelerate whether it’s downhill or sticking the foot in the ground and changing direction. As compared to my No. 2 and No. 3 guy, he might be a hair tighter in his hips, but his twitchiness and explosion and acceleration … you just start to go, ‘What does this guy not have, besides the fact that he’s not 6’2” or over 200 lbs.’ He’s phenomenol.”

No. 2: DJ Turner, Michigan

What Simms said: “To me, (DJ Turner is) the most technically sound corner in the draft. There’s nobody better at technique. Like Witherspoon, the ability to mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, the quick feet, it’s phenomenol. His hips are better than Witherspoon … His ability to flip those hips, turn and break on the ball, it’s right up there. It’s actually more smooth hip-wise than it is for Devon Witherspoon … What more can you say about the guy? Start-stop ability, amazing. Make-up speed, amazing. Other than Witherspoon, I think he’s put in the second-most tough spots out of anybody I’ve watched in this. He plays man-to-man, in your face a ton against big-time receivers. He’s awesome defending double moves. He could be the best nickel or outside guy, and he’s also the fastest guy in the draft. He’s got it all.”

No. 3: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

What Simms said: “There’s not much to pick apart here … He’s got a little more size and meat on his bones. The Tee Higgins of the world, the bigger receivers of the world, they’re gonna have a harder time pushing him around and doing that stuff. He’s got incredible ball skills … He looks prototype. He looks Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey-ish in his uniform …  He just wasn’t as edgy as the other guys … He’s gonna match up better with DeAndre Hopkins than the other two. But I don’t know if he’ll match up better with Jaylen Waddle or Ja’Marr Chase than the other two … But his technique is real. He’s a top-20 pick. You talk size, technique and straight speed, of course this guy is one of the top corners in the draft.” 

No. 4: Deonte Banks, Maryland

What Simms said: “He has more measurables like Gonzalez. 6 foot, 197 lbs., there’s a thickness to him and a power and strength element that certainly jumps out. Let alone, speed is Real Deal Holyfield … man-to-man, great legs, runs easy … He’s comfortable in his speed. He’s never panicked. He’s comfortable in going, ‘You have a step on me? That’s fine, I’m good,’ … But he’s also incredible, like Witherspoon and Turner, at getting on top of people when they try to run a go-route. No one can ever really get around him for the most part … He’s sticky as hell, he’s got very good feet, but he doesn’t know how to use his hands at all yet. So he’s not really that great at jamming people at the line of scrimmage, but he’s never not there … I thought his ability to play the ball and create PBUs in those 50/50 situations where the quarterback tries to throw the ball back shoulder and all that, he’s got a great feel and vision to be able to cover and see the throw at the same time that I was very impressed with.”

No. 5: Kelee Ringo, Georgia

What Simms said: “When you turn on the film, you go, ‘What? This guy’s a corner, he’s not a safety?’ Because he has a prototype safety vibe … Against the bigger, straight-liner guys, nobody’s gonna push this dude around. That’s certainly not going to be an issue, that along with the straight speed. Hey, the change of direction stuff is not beautiful. He’s a little heavy-footed because he’s a bigger guy … but it’s not bad … When he opens up, he can really go; obviously with a 4.36 second 40 time … He’s very smooth as far as an athlete overall.” 

For more preview content of the 2023 NFL Draft, stay tuned to Chris Simms UnbuttonedProFootballTalk and NBC Sports EDGE for all the latest updates, player analysis and mock drafts.

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings: The top QBs, WRs, RBs, and more ahead of draft weekend


The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Click here for the full first-round draft order to find out when your team is picking.

Ahead of this year’s draft, Chris Simms has already started analyzing the top prospects by position on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast. So far, Simms has revealed his highly anticipated list of the top 5 quarterback prospects and wide receivers. See below to find out who made the top 5 names for each position and be sure to check back for updates!

Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL Draft as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft QB Rankings:

  1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Young, Alabama
  3. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
  4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
  5. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA and Will Levis, Kentucky

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft WR Rankings:

  1. Zay Flowers, Boston College
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njibga, Ohio State
  3. Quentin Jonston, TCU
  4. Michael Wilson, Stanford
  5. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Chris Simms 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

  1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
  2. DJ Turner, Michigan
  3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  4. Deonte Banks, Maryland
  5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

How can I watch the 2023 NFL Draft live?

ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network will air all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.

What time does the NFL Draft start?

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds two and three will commence Friday at 7 p.m. ET, with Saturday’s final rounds at 12 p.m.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Season and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!