While the opportunity for NFL teams to play on a holiday has been a long-standing tradition for more than a century, the chance for the Vikings to play on New Year's Eve or Day has been rare.
In its 63 seasons as a franchise, Minnesota has only played on New Year's Eve four times. The Vikings have also played on New Year's Day just seven times. Playing on both holidays in the same calendar year has been even more uncommon for Minnesota, with it occurring only three times (1978, 2006 and 2017) and just once against the same team (2017 against Chicago).
On Sunday, the Vikings will add to those totals when they host the Packers for a New Year's Eve clash on Sunday Night Football. Minnesota traveled to Green Bay to start the 2023 calendar year, falling 41-17 in Week 17 of the 2022 season.
Both teams enter with a 7-8 record and are fighting to claim a Wild Card spot. The playoff race is extremely crowded, though, with 24 teams still in postseason contention. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, that is tied for the second-most teams with their playoff hopes intact with just two weeks remaining in the schedule (The 2004 season had 26 teams alive with two games left to play).
Sunday's game is pivotal for both teams' playoff aspirations. According to Next Gen Stats, a win for either side would improve their chances of making the postseason significantly (31 percent to 49 percent for Minnesota, 25 percent to 55 percent for Green Bay). A loss drops both teams' playoff chances to less than 4 percent.
The Vikings and Packers have met 126 times in their history, with Green Bay holding a 65-58-3 advantage. Minnesota has won three of the past five matchups, including a 24-10 victory at Lambeau Field in Week 8.
Minnesota has nearly split its home matchups with Green Bay during the rivalry, however; the Vikings took a 31-30 series lead when hosting the Packers with their 23-7 victory in Week 1 of the 2022 season.
The Vikings have won all but two of their home games against Green Bay since moving into U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016. The Packers claimed consecutive wins in 2019 (23-10) and 2020 (43-34).
Let's see who the experts are picking to win the game:
Vikings 24, Packers 21 – Brooke Cersosimo, NFL.com
The Vikings are without T.J. Hockenson, and Jordan Addison's status is in doubt at publishing. … The fact that Green Bay will be without Jaire Alexander — who's serving a one-game suspension — certainly helps. So does playing at U.S. Bank Stadium. A lot falls on Brian Flores' defense, which also just lost pass rusher D.J. Wonnum to injury, to stall Jordan Love, who's thrown at least two TDs and zero picks in five of his past six games. Honestly, these divisional matchups are always a fight to the end, and I could see it going either way. But I'll forecast a Greg Joseph field goal as time expires.
Packers 30, Vikings 25 – Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Both teams need this to stay alive in the playoff race. The Packers are playing consecutive road games, which is a challenge. But I think Jordan Love and the Packers passing game can have success here against a Minnesota defense that has struggled lately.
Packers 24, Vikings 21 – Staff, Bleacher Report
"In Week 16, the Packers made Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young look like a legitimate No. 1 overall pick," Bleacher Report NFL analyst Maurice Moton said. "He threw for a career-high 312 yards and two touchdowns, finishing with a personal-best 110.0 passer rating.
"In order for the Packers to win, they would have to outscore the Vikings in a shootout, which is a difficult task against Brian Flores' 10th-ranked scoring defense."
Packers 24, Vikings 20 – Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
Jordan Love has had the expected ups and downs of his first full-time starting season. But the Packers do have a keeper at QB, given he's worked through a lot of injuries and reshuffling personnel around him at key positions. He is feeling better with a variety of young weapons with each week and now has help from his running backs.
Packers 28, Vikings 25 – Bill Bender, Sporting News
Both NFC North teams are clinging on to their playoff hopes. Jordan Love has 13 TDs and one interception in the Packers past six games, but a much-maligned defense has allowed 401.3 yards per game in the same stretch.
2 of 7 experts pick the Vikings, The MMQB
1 of 5 experts (5 of 10 total had not submitted) pick the Vikings, ESPN
"Straight-up consensus" from seven experts: Packers, Bleacher Report
3 of 12 experts pick the Vikings, The Athletic