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Early Look: Vikings Visiting Packers for 123rd Border Battle

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings and Packers are set to renew their Border Battle rivalry in the cold and under the lights of Sunday Night Football in Week 17.

Both teams have a tremendous amount to play. Minnesota (7-8) can boost its playoff percentage from 13 to 51 (independent of any other results in Week 17) with a victory over the Packers (12-3), who are currently the No. 1 seed.

With seven teams set to make the NFC Playoffs thanks to a format implemented in 2020, only the No. 1 seed will receive a first-round bye. Green Bay is trying to claim that prize for a second year in a row. Here's a look at the Playoff Picture heading into Week 17.

Minnesota (7-8) is trying for a season sweep after a 34-31 victory in November and third consecutive win against Green Bay.

If the Eagles (8-7) defeat the Washington Football Team (6-9) at noon, Minnesota will have no choice but to win in order to return to the postseason.

Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 17 game against the Packers, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Official LASIK partner of the Minnesota Vikings.

STAT OF THE WEEK

2,851 receiving yards

Justin Jefferson has set a new record for the most receiving yards in a player's first two NFL seasons, passing Odell Beckham, Jr., this past Sunday. He accomplished the feat with Beckham (2,755 from 2014-15 with the Giants) on the Rams sideline.

Jefferson's 97 receptions, 1,451 yards and nine receiving touchdowns have all exceeded his totals during his historic rookie season (88-1,400-7).

NORSEMAN NOTES

Kirk Cousins ranks fourth in the NFL this season with a passer rating of 101.3 (Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers ranks first with a 110.8).

Cousins has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 10 consecutive road games, joining Tom Brady (14 in a row from 2010-12), Peyton Manning (12 from 2013-14), Matt Ryan (11 from 2018-19), Brady (11 from 2003-04) and Brett Favre (11 from 2001-02).

Cousins set a new team record for career games with 300 or more passing yards. He has 20 such games with the Vikings, breaking the mark of 19 that was reached by Tommy Kramer and matched by Daunte Culpepper.

Dalvin Cook ranks fourth in the NFL this season with 1,067 rushing yards.

He is the fourth Vikings player to record at least 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Cook joined Adrian Peterson and Robert Smith (four consecutive seasons), as well as Chuck Foreman (three).

Justin Jefferson ranks second in the NFL with 1,451 receiving yards on the season, trailing only Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, who has 1,734. Green Bay's Davante Adams ranks third with 1,362.

Jefferson's 1,451 receiving yards are the second-most by a Vikings player in a season. Randy Moss set the record of 1,632 in 2003.

Tyler Conklin is the ninth tight end in Vikings history with 500 receiving yards in a season. He has 540 in 2021, the most since Kyle Rudolph's 634 in 2018.

Xavier Woods has set a new career high with three interceptions this season.

Anthony Barr last week became the first Vikings linebacker to pick off two passes in one game since E.J. Henderson in Week 6 of 2010.

Greg Joseph is one of eight Vikings kickers to make 30 or more field goals in a season.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Packers.

KNOW THE FOE

Head Coach: Matt LaFleur, 3rd season with Packers (38-9 in regular season, 2-2 in playoff games)

This is LaFleur's 13th overall season in the NFL. His previous experiences were with Houston (offensive assistant from 2008-09), Washington (quarterbacks coach from 2010-13), Atlanta (quarterbacks coach from 2015-16), the Los Angeles Rams (offensive coordinator in 2017) and Tennessee (offensive coordinator in 2018).

LaFleur worked with Vikings QB Kirk Cousins in Washington from 2012-13 and overlapped with Minnesota receivers coach Keenan McCardell there from 2010-11.

Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in touchdown percentage (6.9) and interception percentage (0.8). If he's able to keep those trajectories, it will be his fourth season (second in a row) with the best touchdown percentage and his six (fourth in a row) in interception percentage.

Aaron Jones has four rushing touchdowns, which is tied for his fewest in a season since his 2017 rookie campaign, but he's recorded a career-best six receiving scores this season. Jones did not play when the teams met in November.

Davante Adams earned selection to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl. He has 106 receptions, 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Adams can set new highs for a season with 10 more catches and 25 more yards.

Signed by Green Bay in October, Rasul Douglas leads the Packers and is tied for fourth in the NFL with five interceptions. He recorded pick-sixes in consecutive weeks, helping in wins against the Rams and Bears.

Rashan Gary leads the Packers with 8.5 sacks thanks to 2.0 against Cleveland last week. Preston Smith has 8.0, including a pair against Minnesota in Week 11.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

CONNECTIONS

VIKINGS-PACKERS

Vikings CB Parry Nickerson was with Green Bay for the 2020 season but played in just one game for the Packers.

Packers defensive backs coach Jerry Gray held the same role with the Vikings from 2014-19.

Packers inside LBs coach Kirk Olivadotti's father, Tom, was a defensive assistant for the Vikings from 1996-99.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

Packers G/T Billy Turner is from Shoreview, Minnesota, and attended Mounds View High School. Turner's father, Maurice Turner, was selected by the Vikings in the 12th round of the 1983 NFL Draft. Maurice Turner played in 23 games for the Vikings from 1984-85 before finishing the 1985 campaign with Green Bay.

Packers LB De'Vondre Campbell played for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers from 2013-15.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst's father, John, served as the Gophers head football coach from 1985-91. Brian Gutekunst attended Robbinsdale Armstrong High School (Plymouth), where he lettered as a quarterback, defensive back and wide receiver.

FORMER PRO TEAMMATES

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins and Packers OLB Preston Smith in Washington from 2015-17

Vikings T Rashod Hill and Packers TE Marcedes Lewis with Jacksonville in 2016; Vikings WR Dede Westbrook with Lewis (2017) in Jacksonville

Minnesota LS Andrew DePaola and Packers S Adrian Amos with the Bears in 2017

Minnesota DT Michael Pierce with Packers LB Za'Darius Smith for the Ravens from 2016-18

FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES

Vikings LB Anthony Barr and LB Eric Kendricks with Packers NT Kenny Clark at UCLA

Minnesota CB Cameron Dantzler with Packers G Elgton Jenkins at Mississippi State

Vikings LB Blake Lynch and DT James Lynch with Packers S Henry Black at Baylor from 2017-19

Vikings TE Chris Herndon (2017) and WR K.J. Osborn (2019) with Packers LB Jonathan Garvin at Miami

Minnesota C Mason Cole and S Josh Metellus with Packers LB Rashan Gary and G Jon Runyan at Michigan

Vikings RB Kene Nwangwu with Packers WR Allen Lazard and LS Steven Wirtel at Iowa State

Minnesota WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette with Packers DL Jack Heflin at Iowa

Vikings LB Troy Dye with Packers C Jake Hanson at Oregon

Minnesota T Christian Darrisaw with Packers T Yosh Nijman at Virginia Tech

VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. PACKERS

CAREER TOTALS

Offense

Kirk Cousins: 8 games (1 start with WAS, 7 with MIN), 4-3-1 as a starter (3-3-1 with MIN); 169-of-253 passing, 66.8 completion percentage, 2,254 passing yards, 18 TDs, 5 INT, 110.4 passer rating

Dalvin Cook: 6 games (6 starts), 104 carries, 520 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs; 15 receptions, 226 yards and 2 TDs

Adam Thielen: 15 games (11 starts); 74 receptions, 986 yards, 7 TDs; 4 rushes for 73 yards

Justin Jefferson: 3 games (2 starts); 13 receptions, 221 yards, 2 TDs

Defense

Harrison Smith: 17 games (17 starts); 104 tackles, 5 INTs, 3.0 sacks, 8 TFL, 9 passes defended

Eric Kendricks: 13 games (13 starts); 107 tackles, 2.5 sacks, FF, 2 FR, 7 TFL, 3 passes defended

(tackles are league stats)

VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. PACKERS

Cousins: 5 career games with at least 300 passing yards, including his personal high of 425 in 2018 at Lambeau Field

Cook: career-high 30 carries for 163 yards and three scores, plus a 50-yard receiving TD at Green Bay on Nov. 1, 2020

Thielen: 12 receptions for 202 yards and 2 TDs at Green Bay on Dec. 24, 2016 and 12 receptions for 131 yards and 1 TD at Green Bay on Sept. 16, 2018

Jefferson: 8 receptions for 169 yards and 2 TDs on Nov. 21, 2021

Kendricks: 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 TFL at Green Bay on Dec. 24, 2016

Smith: 2 INTs in a shutout win at Green Bay on Dec. 23, 2017

VIKINGS-PACKERS SERIES NOTES

1. The Vikings have a 56-63-3 mark in 122 games against the Packers (includes 1-1 in postseason games).

2. The Vikings are 7-7-1 in the series under Head Coach Mike Zimmer, having gone 2-3 since Matt LaFleur's hire in Green Bay.

3. Pro Football Hall of Famer Bud Grant recorded his first victory as head coach of the Vikings when Minnesota prevailed 10-7 against the Packers at Milwaukee County Stadium on Oct. 15, 1967.

Longest Vikings winning streak in series: 7 games (Nov. 2, 1975 through Oct. 22, 1978)

Longest Vikings losing streak in series: 6 games (Oct. 22, 1961 through Nov. 10, 1963)

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