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Week 17 of the NFL season is here, which means it is time for teams who have not yet clinched a playoff spot to make their final statement women these last two weeks. These are games that will ultimately make or break a team season as some divisions have not yet been won while all playoff spots for the wild cards are up for grabs.
This Sunday Night Football is going to be a huge matchup for multiple reasons as the Green Bay Packers go on the road to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Both the Vikings and the Packers are on the outside looking in of attempting to make the final cut for the NFC wild card. They have already lost their chance to win the NFC North Division, with the Detroit Lions winning it. The loser of this game may face sudden elimination from the postseason, while the winner will get one more chance for the wild card.
The Green Bay Packers started the season with a terrible run of losing a mix of average to bad teams. By the time they got into week 11 of the season, the Packers were sitting with an overall record of 3-6. Green Bay, then, became one of the hottest teams in the middle of the season by winning three huge games against the Los Angeles Chargers, at the Detroit lines, and the reigning Super Bowl champs in the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers fell back to earth by losing two consecutive matchups to the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before ultimately winning last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers, the worst team in the NFL, by only three points.
Much like the Packers, the Minnesota Vikings started the season with a terrible run themselves. The Vikings only won one game in their first five matchups. After that, they went on a serious run to win five consecutive matchups to get to an overall record of 6-4. Just as the Vikings are feeling confident about their quarterback situations, their quarterback inconsistencies arose once again as now they are going on to their fourth quarterback in Jaren Hall. Minnesota is looking to shed the negative momentum of losing four of the last five games where the statement went on Sunday Night Football against the Packers, a team they already beat earlier in the season in Lambeau Field.
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|Green Bay Packers
Over 43.5 Total Points
Over 216.5 Passing Yards from Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall
Over 243.5 Passing Yards from Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love
Sunday football has the potential to be a high-scoring game based on the aspect of several defensive players that are going to be out in this game. The last time these two teams met on the field, the Vikings defeated the Packers 24-10 in Lambeau Field in week 8.
Green Bay averages 22.2 points per game (11th in the league), while Minnesota averages 20.9 points per game (21st in the league). Among the starters who are going to be out for Minnesota are quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight end T.J. Hockinson, and potentially rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison. This leaves a lot of pressure for star Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, who is playing his fourth game back from injury.
Jefferson, however, has a chance to have an explosive game as Packers star cornerback Jaire Alexander going to be suspended from this matchup. With both teams playing desperately on offense, there should be potential for the game to surpass 45 points.
When Kirk Cousins was first injured, the Vikings turned to rookie quarterback Jaren Hall to start against the Atlanta Falcons. Hall lost his starting role shortly into the game due to a concussion and never took the field in the regular season up until this Sunday night.
Before his injury, Hall completed 5-of-6 of his passes for 78 yards. He has the potential to account for highly productive games through the air much like he has in his time at BYU.
Hall will lead the Vikings against the Packers' defense that ranks 17th in the league in points allowed per game (22.1). They're much more efficient in defending against the passing game by ranking 13th in the league and passing yards allowed per game (216.9), but the suspension of cornerback Jaire Alexander will make things difficult for the Packers to defend against players like Justin Jefferson.
If rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison plays in this game, it will be a huge boost for the Vikings offense and for Hall as he makes his second-ever start in the NFL.
It has been an up-and-down season for the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Jordan Love. In his first year as a starter, Love has found good momentum but has also played poorly in other games.
In 15 games this season, Love has passed for 3,587 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He has eight games this season where he has passed 4 245 yards or more. He also has three games where he has passed for under 200 yards.
Green Bay is facing Minnesota's defense which ranks 10th in the league in points per game (19.9) but ranked 17th in the league in passing yards per game (225.5). There is some opportunity for Love to have a huge game in week 17, but the Packers offense will need to be focused and determined to save their season.
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What: Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: Sunday, December 31, 8:20 PM E.T.
How to Watch: NBC, YouTube TV, NFL Network
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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