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Packers at Vikings Game Preview

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings and U.S. Bank Stadium are hosting another holiday matchup within the NFC North on Sunday. The Green Bay Packers visit Minnesota during Sunday Night Football in a critical game on New Year's Eve.

The Vikings (7-8) and Packers (7-8) are vying for a Wild Card position, but both teams are on the outside looking in with two remaining regular season games.

According to Next Gen Stats, the Vikings (currently No. 8 in the NFC) have a 31-percent chance of making the playoffs. A win improves those chances to 49 percent, but a loss drops them to 4 percent.

The Packers (currently No. 10 in the NFC) have a 25 percent chance of making the playoffs. A win improves those chances to 55 percent, but a loss drops them to 1 percent.

Minnesota will be without star tight end T.J. Hockenson following a season-ending knee injury he suffered last week against the Lions. The Packers are down star cornerback Jaire Alexander due to a team-issued, one-game suspension for "conduct detrimental to the team."

The Packers and Vikings have split their last four meetings, with all four games decided by at least 14 points. That is tied for most consecutive games in the series decided by 14-plus points, matching streaks from 1961-62 and 1990-91.

Kickoff is set for 7:20 p.m. (CT).

Vikings Uniform

Minnesota will wear its traditional home combination of purple jerseys and white pants.

4 Storylines

  1. Critical situation:*For either team to reach the postseason, both teams need to win their two remaining games and have either Seattle (currently No. 7 seed) or the Rams (currently No. 6 seed) lose at least one of their next two contests.*

Protecting the football will drastically improve the Vikings chances of making the playoffs. Minnesota is 2-5 at U.S. Bank this season. The Vikings turnover margin in those five losses is minus-10, while Minnesota is plus-4 in their two home wins.

  1. Unknown starting quarterback: The Vikings have yet to announce a Week 17 starting quarterback. Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said the team was considering its options after Nick Mullens threw four interceptions against Detroit, which was his second consecutive start.

O'Connell said the team is considering all three options – Mullens, rookie Jaren Hall, and Joshua Dobbs – to start Sunday night. All three quarterbacks have at least one start this season, but Hall left his first start in the first quarter after suffering a concussion at Atlanta.

Dobbs relieved Hall and started while Mullens was on Injured Reserve, but he threw four interceptions against Chicago in Week 12.

  1. Next tight end up: Whoever starts at quarterback will be without the Vikings top statistical pass catcher of 2023. Hockenson was officially placed on Injured Reserve on Wednesday after suffering a season-ending ACL and MCL injury on the Vikings second play of the second half.

Hockenson ranks second in the NFL in catches (95) and third in receiving yards (960) by tight ends this season, setting new career highs in both. He's also been the team's most consistent offensive threat after quarterback Kirk Cousins and receiver Justin Jefferson were sidelined by significant early-season injuries.

Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt and Nick Muse are the Vikings only remaining healthy tight ends. Mundt played 23 of 55 offensive snaps against the Lions. Oliver played 20. Muse has been on the 53-man roster but inactive.

  1. Injured Vikings: Tackle Brian O'Neill has missed the past two games but was estimated as fully participating in Wednesday's walk-through. Cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr., missed last week and was among six Vikings who did not participate.

Hockenson and outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum (quadriceps) each suffered season-ending injuries in Week 16 and were placed on Injured Reserve Wednesday. Rookies Jordan Addison (ankle) and Mekhi Blackmon (shoulder) each left with injuries and did not return.

3 Things 'Bout the Packers

  1. Jordan Love on a hot streak: Packers quarterback Jordan Love started his first season as a starter slowly, but a November-December surge has followed.

Through 15 games, Love has thrown for 3,587 yards and 27 touchdowns, with another 246 rushing yards and three scores. Against the Panthers last week, Love completed 17 of 28 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Love became the sixth-fastest quarterback to reach 30 career passing touchdowns. He did so in 591 passing attempts and has completed 371 passes over his career (62.1 percent).

Since Minnesota limited Love to a completion percentage of 58.5 percent and passer rating of 72.1 in Week 8, he's completed 66.4 percent of his passes and totaled a passer rating of 103.2.

  1. Opponents have attacked Packers pass defense: In the past three games, opposing quarterbacks Tommy DeVito (Giants), Baker Mayfield (Buccaneers) and Bryce Young (Panthers) combined for 62 of 85 passing, 851 passing yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions, a 72.9 completion percentage, and a 132.0 quarterback rating. Both DeVito and Mayfield were recognized as NFC Offensive Player of the Week following their games against the Packers, while Young's career-high performance earned him Rookie of the Week buzz.
  2. Aaron Jones coming off big game: Aaron Jones, who has battled multiple injuries this season, looked rejuvenated last week against the Panthers, rushing for a season-high 127 yards on 21 carries. The seventh-year running back has endured the most injury-riddled season of his career in 2023, hampered almost all year by hamstring and knee injuries. Jones pulled his hamstring at the end of a 35-yard touchdown catch in Week 1 against the Bears and didn't fully heal until more than halfway through the season. He then sprained his MCL in Week 11 against the Chargers and missed three games, returning on a limited basis in Week 15 against the Buccaneers.

The only two games in which the Packers have scored at least 30 points are those in which Jones has eclipsed 100 scrimmage yards, Week 1 and Week 16.

Look back at photos through the years featuring games between the Vikings and Packers.

2 Trends

Lots of Injuries: Not only are the Vikings dealing with several injuries to key starters, but the Packers are also enduring similar injury concerns. Last week, Green Bay played without starting receivers Christian Watson and Jayden Reed and tight end Luke Musgrave. Rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks did not play in the second half due to a second-quarter chest injury.

New-look Packers offense: Aside from injuries to Aaron Rodgers for one game in 2013 and another in 2017, Sunday will mark just the second time since 1992 that neither Rodgers nor Brett Farve will start against the Vikings. The first came in Week 8 this season, and the second time arrives on New Year's Eve when Love will make his first start at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Green Bay is the NFL's youngest team, with an average age of 25.13 years.

1 Talking Point

"The way this season has gone, we absolutely need to prepare not only for who's going to be the starter. We need to prepare for who would be the next man up, who would be the guy in case of that true emergency No. 3, and make sure we're preparing all those guys, accordingly, not knowing how Sunday will go."

— O'Connell on the quarterback situation


Vikings Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator for the Packers from 2018-20, and Minnesota Tight Ends Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Brian Angelichio coached Green Bay's tight ends from 2016-18.

Packers linebacker Eric Wilson was with Minnesota from 2017-20.

Team Connections


Series History

The Vikings are 58-65-3 all-time against the Packers.