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5 Vikings-Packers Storylines to Watch

The Vikings will be at U.S. Bank Stadium for the home stretch, beginning with a Week 16 matchup against the Packers on Monday Night Football.

Minnesota is 10-4 and would be a Wild Card team if the season ended today. Green Bay is 11-3 and leads the NFC North.

The Packers won the first Border Battle of the 2019 season, a 21-16 Vikings defeat in Week 2 at Lambeau Field.

Here are five Vikings-Packers storylines to watch on Monday.

1. Mega playoff implications

The Vikings need some help to win the NFC North, as they must win out and hope for a Packers loss to or tie with the Lions in Week 17.

But Minnesota can also clinch its spot in the postseason with a win on Monday night. The Vikings might also know their playoff status before then, as they would be in with a Rams loss to the 49ers on Saturday night.

Green Bay, currently the No. 2 seed, is also jostling for playoff positioning. The Packers can clinch their first NFC North title since 2016 with a win Monday night. Green Bay secured a playoff berth — and eliminated the Bears — with a 21-13 win over the Bears in Week 15.

Four of the six NFC playoff spots have been claimed by Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans and San Francisco. Minnesota and Dallas can join the party with wins in Week 16, but final seeding might not be complete until Week 17.

2. The running back situation

All eyes will be on the Vikings injury report this week, especially regarding the status of Minnesota's running backs.

Dalvin Cook was injured in Sunday's win over the Chargers in the third quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke Monday about Cook.

"It's too early, but I think an extra day obviously helps," Zimmer said of Cook's availability for Monday night. "We'll just have to see how the week goes."

The Vikings were also without rookie Alexander Mattison, who missed Week 15 with an ankle injury. That led to an increased workload for Mike Boone, who responded with 56 yards and his first two career rushing touchdowns on 13 carries.

Zimmer had high praise for Boone, noting his competitiveness in practice in recent weeks, coupled with his strong play on special teams throughout the 2019 season.

If Cook and/or Mattison can't go, look for Boone and Ameer Abdullah to be the featured backs against a Green Bay defense that ranks 17th in the NFL with 106.6 rushing yards allowed per game.

Fullback C.J. Ham is a converted running back who might be tasked to help in that capacity if the Vikings are short-handed.

3. Focusing on Aaron (Jones)

Aaron Rodgers is still the face of the Packers franchise. And while the future Hall of Fame quarterback is having a strong season, running back Aaron Jones has emerged as a playmaker in his own right in 2019.

Jones, a 2017 fifth-round pick out of the University of Texas-El Paso, is tied for 12th in the league with 1,255 yards from scrimmage (830 rushing and 425 receiving).

But he has been a touchdown machine, as he ranks second in the NFL with 17 total scores. Jones is tied with Carolina's Christian McCaffrey with 14 rushing touchdowns, and has added three receiving scores in 2019.

Jones had 27 touches for 150 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown in Green Bay's Week 2 win over Minnesota.

4. Danielle's defensive dominance

You aren't alone if you are simply wowed by Danielle Hunter's play each week.

The defensive end was all over the place Sunday in Los Angeles as he recorded five tackles (press box stats), a sack of Philip Rivers, one quarterback hit, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Just for good measure, Hunter also had a key block on Ifeadi Odenigbo's 56-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

Hunter has enjoyed moderate success against the Packers, with 4.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in nine games, five of which have been starts.

But is seems Hunter has taken his game to another level. If Hunter can get to Rodgers once Monday, he would tie his career-high of 14.5 sacks.

Any more than that would be a new personal-best for the 25-year-old, who seems to just be getting better and better each and every week.

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

5. Staying perfect at home

The Vikings are the only team in the NFL to have a perfect home record in 2019, as Minnesota is 6-0 behind wins over Atlanta, Oakland, Philadelphia, Washington, Denver and Detroit.

Minnesota's defense has been one score better at home, as the unit allows 14.2 points per game at U.S. Bank Stadium compared to 21.8 points per game on the road.

The Vikings offense averages 27.8 points per game at home, compared to 26.5 points per game in opposing venues.

The Vikings are 24-7 [.774 win percentage] at U.S. Bank Stadium [including the playoffs] since opening the venue in 2016.

That includes three wins over the Packers, who have never won at U.S. Bank Stadium. If the Vikings want a chance at another division title, they will have to stretch that streak to four.

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