The Vikings (11-3) are preparing to head back on the road to take on the Green Bay Packers (7-7) on Saturday at Lambeau Field.
Minnesota defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 34-7 at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday to clinch the NFC North after playing three previous games on the road.
The Packers were officially eliminated from playoff contention after the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.
Let’s see who the experts pick to win the matchup between the Packers and the Vikings:**
What a fun Saturday matchup it would have been if Green Bay had won last week and *Aaron Rodgers weren't put on injured reserve. Now the Packers are playing out the string. Meanwhile, the Vikings are playing as well as any team in pro football in all phases of the game. If they were a low-budget sci-if movie, they'd be good with phasers, too — which would in turn make Brett Hundley a red shirt guy from "Star Trek." Last week's demolition of the Bengals was barely noticed, which is an indication of the rising bar for Mike Zimmer's team. The defense throttled Andy Dalton and didn't allow for any balance on Cincy's offense. For Green Bay to win, Jamaal Williams or Aaron Jones must command a semblance of respect, so that Minnesota's defensive ends are forced to hesitate a tad and can't just tee off on Hundley. By the way, the Vikes are allowing opponents to convert on just 26.3 percent of third downs. That's the lowest figure in the league since the 1991 Saints. The "Dome Patrol" allowed 26.1 conversions.*
The euphoric belief that Aaron Rodgers would lead the Packers on a Super Bowl run upon his return evaporated in less than 48 hours with their loss and the Falcons’ Monday night win. Having him back wasn't good enough against the Panthers. There just are no good signs for the Packers in this one.
*When: 7:30 p.m. CT Saturday (NBC), Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin*
There's no *Aaron Rodgers for the Green Bay Packers. Their season is officially over. That will allow them to play freely, but the Minnesota Vikings are quite simply one of the best teams in football.*
Green Bay quarterback Brett Hundley had just been finding his rhythm when the Packers pulled him for Rodgers. Now Hundley is back in the lineup and going against a terrific Minnesota defense. Expect him to struggle.
The Vikings won't struggle on offense. They can run the ball well, and they can get big plays out of Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. While the Packers do play hard defensively, they aren't talented enough to stop Minnesota for four full quarters.
The *Vikings are playing for a chance to be the top seed in the NFC.*
This game took a big hit with the Packers’ decision to shut down Aaron Rodgers for the season. The Vikings shouldn’t have too much trouble winning this one to stay in contention for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Green Bay has significant motivation to throw a wrench in Minnesota’s effort to get a bye week. But do they have the horsepower to do it? Brett Hundley and Joe Callahan are back, and that may not be enough to give the Vikings their fourth loss of the year.
FiveThirtyEight’s 2015 NFL forecast uses an Elo-based model to calculate each team’s chances of winning each week.
Pre-game win probabilities: *Vikings 61 percent *— FiveThirtyEight.com
If Aaron Rodgers hadn’t ended up back on injured reserve, I suspect we’d see a lot more picks for the *Packers to beat the Vikings. Not with Brett Hundley though.*