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.
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.
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.
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)
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