Green Bay is the universal favorite for victory heading into Sunday Night Football.
But as ESPN's Rob Demovsky said, "If anyone is going to stop the Packers December winning streak – they've won 13 straight regular-season games in December or later – it might be the Vikings."
ESPN asked its beat reporters to break down their teams' respective matchup this weekend, so Demovsky and Courtney Cronin shared their thoughts on the upcoming Border Battle. While both did project the Packers to win, neither expects it to be an easy contest, and neither expects more than a one-score difference when the clock hits 0:00. Demovsky wrote:
[Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer's team has won two straight against the Packers, and it is the only team to beat Matt LaFleur twice since he took over as Packers [head] coach in 2019. However, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has thrown 34 touchdown passes since his last interception against an NFC North team, the longest streak in NFL history by a quarterback against division opponents. And it's going to be cold on Sunday night. As Rodgers said this week, "the colder, the better" for him and the Packers.
Cronin was asked to make a "bold prediction" for the prime-time showdown, and she focused on Rodgers and his clean play as of late.
Rodgers will continue to be turnover-free during his 16-touchdown, zero-interception hot streak over the Packers past five games. He'll get that mark to 20 against the Vikings secondary with another four-touchdown, zero-interception performance, like he did when these two teams faced off in Week 11.
Cronin and Demovsky reminded readers of playoff implications out of this game:
The Packers – who already have the NFC North clinched – can take the No. 1 seed and a playoff bye with a win and a Dallas loss. The Vikings, however, will be eliminated from the playoff hunt with a loss and wins from either the Falcons or the Eagles.
Worth adding is that Minnesota's postseason chances do jump to 50 percent if they upset Green Bay, regardless of what else happens around the league.
Cronin predicted a 30-23 Packers win, and Demovsky predicted Green Bay having the edge in a 27-23 contest.
NFL.com highlights Vikings among 'Week 17 underdogs'
Once again, pundits are expecting the frigid outing at Lambeau Field to be a dogfight between the division rivals.
NFL.com's Marc Sessler recently delved into Week 17 underdogs and pointed out that while the Packers "loom as the class of the NFC," they aren't impossible to overcome, "nipping the Browns a week ago after barely surviving a COVID-19/injury-wrecked Ravens squad."
Sessler wrote the following of Sunday night's Border Battle:
The Vikings rattled Green Bay in Week 11, with Kirk Cousins piling up 341 yards and two scores in a 34-31 edging that marked Minnesota's season high point. That clash saw Justin Jefferson compile an 8/169/2 line against Green Bay's secondary.
That won't be easy to duplicate with fellow Vikings pass-catcher Adam Thielen undergoing season-ending ankle surgery – or with Jaire Alexander in line to potentially rejoin Green Bay's back half. The Packers have scored 100 points over their past three games with zero giveaways. I expect them to level Minnesota's playoff hopes, but not without a typically heart-wrenching, down-to-the-wire finish.