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The Skinny Post: Vikings Look to Sweep NFC North Road Schedule

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings are in the tournament, but they're hungry for more.

Minnesota clinched the NFC North last weekend with a 34-7 win over Cincinnati, ensuring the Vikings at least one home playoff game. But the Vikings have their eyes on getting one of the top two seeds, which would also give them a first-round bye.

The Vikings can help move toward that goal with a Week 16 win in Green Bay against the division-rival Packers. The teams play at 7:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday on NBC.

Green Bay is 7-7 on the season and has been eliminated from playoff contention. The Packers fell 31-24 in Carolina last weekend and are in third place in the NFC North.

Here are three areas to watch in Saturday's contest, plus some noteworthy stats on both teams:

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

Getting the brooms out | By@EricLSmith

There's always a different feel around Winter Park when the Vikings are prepping for an NFC North game, especially one on the road, as Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer routinely preaches the importance of winning within the division.

The Vikings have done that so far this season, going 3-1 with a home win over the Packers and road wins over the Bears and Lions.

That means that with one road division game left, the Vikings have a chance to sweep the NFC North in their own stadiums. The last time that happened was in 2015, which coincidentally was the last time the Vikings won the NFC North.

A win Saturday night would also mean a season sweep over Green Bay, something that Minnesota hasn't accomplished since 2009, a season in which the Vikings reached the NFC Championship.

The Vikings take immense pride in holding serve in their own division, but to get a road sweep and take both games from Green Bay would be validation of a strong season thus far.

Honing in on Hundley | By@LindseyMNSports

The last time the Vikings and Packers faced off, Brett Hundley stepped in and took over partway through the game for Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a broken collarbone.

Hundley now has eight games – and seven starts – under center for Green Bay, and he's shown on film an increased level of confidence in the Packers offense.

"I mean you look at his production since he came into our game, [and he] looks a lot more comfortable in his mannerisms, operating what they're trying to get accomplished offensively, his communication, and getting them in the right matches and people in the right plays, the right protection, all of those things," said Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards.

Hundley has yet to throw a touchdown pass at Lambeau Field, but Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said that the young quarterback has a style and tendencies similar to Rodgers. Minnesota's defense will look to contain Hundley early on to set a tone in this Border Battle.

Same week, much different year | By@pcraigers

When the schedule was first released, a surface observation was that the Vikings would have had multiple mulligan opportunities in the second half of 2017 from the previous season.

Minnesota's Week 10 (Washington), Week 12 (Detroit on Thanksgiving again) and Week 16 (Green Bay) road trips all fell on the same weekends as in 2016. Chicago is making its trip to U.S. Bank Stadium next week as an encore of the 2016 finale.

A year, however, can make a big difference.

The Vikings enter Saturday night's game at Lambeau Field having won nine of their past 10 games and have clinched the NFC North. Last season, they entered the Border Battle roadie banged up and having lost seven of nine.

Green Bay was 8-6 this time last season, but amidst a surge toward the division title, that included winning its final two.

The Vikings expect a fierce challenge from the Packers and need to keep making the most of 2017's mulligans to be in the best position for the playoffs.

Substantial Stats

— Saturday's Border Battle between the Vikings and Packers will be the 115th all-time meeting between the teams. That is the most games against one opponent in Vikings franchise history.

— Minnesota's defense has had three different games this season in which it has held opponents to a single third-down conversion all game. Tampa Bay (1-for-6), Atlanta (1-for-10) and Cincinnati (1-for-13) all only had one third-down conversion against the Vikings.

— The Vikings have rushed for at least 100 yards as a team in 11 of 14 games so far this season. Minnesota, which ranks ninth in the NFL with 121.3 rushing yards per game, only had two 100-yard games in 2016.

— Eric Kendricks has two career interceptions and has taken both back for touchdowns. The Vikings linebacker had a 31-yard interception return for a score Sunday, and he had a 77-yard, pick-6 in the 2016 season opener against Tennessee.

Quotable

"We're still trying to make it a rivalry. In order to do that, you have to keep winning. But I think it's getting to be more that way. I understand the fans, they think that, but you know. And I think it's a great atmosphere when you go in there. I think it's a heck of a place, and they always have a good team. So that part should be really good." — Zimmer on the Minnesota-Green Bay rivalry.

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