The Vikings will head to Green Bay this weekend as division champions and looking to earn their 12th win of the season. There is plenty on the line for Minnesota on Saturday, and plenty of storylines to watch in the buildup to the game. Here are five we'll be chasing.
1. No Rodgers, but Hundley can still play spoiler
Green Bay's loss last week in Carolina paired with Atlanta's win at Tampa Bay eliminated the Packers from playoff contention, and that also eliminated the Packers willingness to put Aaron Rodgers on the field against the Vikings defense. Rodgers, who was injured in the first matchup between these two teams back in October, has been placed on the Reserve/Injured list and that means it'll be Brett Hundley under center on Saturday evening. But that doesn't mean Green Bay will simply lay down for the Vikings. The Packers will try to play the role of spoiler as the Vikings look to solidify their standing as the NFC's second seed and also continue their pursuit of Philadelphia for the top seed.
2. Who's in, who's out for Vikings?
The Vikings enjoyed the return from injury of offensive line starters Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers last week. They were also boosted by the ability of players such as tight end Kyle Rudolph and receiver Adam Thielen, among others, to play last week through injuries. There are still players on the mend, including starting left tackle Riley Reiff, and their statuses bear monitoring as the Vikings look to balance winning now to improve playoff positioning with taking a cautious approach to make sure those players are able to play once the postseason begins.
3. Special teams rounding into playoff form at the perfect time
The Vikings special teams groups were on point in last week's win over Cincinnati. Detractors may say their performance was enhanced by playing in the controlled environment of U.S. Bank Stadium. Those detractors can be silenced even further with another on-point performance by the Vikings this Saturday night in frigid conditions at Lambeau Field. Should that happen, the Vikings special teams groups will go into the final regular season game – at U.S. Bank Stadium – at close to top form and in a great position with the playoffs on the horizon. Given the competitive nature of playoff games, having a special teams corps clicking on all cylinders is a great advantage and the Vikings are in a great position to realize that.
4. More records for Rudy?
Rudolph has been a perennial candidate to set a new record for single-season touchdown receptions by a tight end. The record is 11 by Visanthe Shiancoe in 2009, and Rudolph came within two touchdowns of tying the record in 2012. Heading into the final two games of this season, Rudolph is at eight and needs three more to tie Shiancoe's record and then a fourth to set the new mark. From a numbers standpoint only, it may seem like a stretch to think Rudolph can get there. But considering he has five touchdowns in the last four games, it's a distinct possibility.
5. Tough-minded Vikings are becoming road warriors
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer speaks often about wanting his team to be smart and tough. One good indication that a team possesses both of those traits is a good road record. Games are hard enough to win in this League, so overcoming enough obstacles and circumstances to win on the road is notable. The Vikings enter Saturday's game, their final regular season contest on the road, with a 5-2 mark away from home. A win would give them a 6-2 road record for the season, which would be the best road record for a Vikings since 1998 when the team when 15-1 overall and 7-1 on the road before advancing to the NFC Championship Game.