It's going to be the very last game of the 2015 regular season, and our last chance to make regular season predictions for how the Minnesota Vikings are going to do. They'll be taking on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, with the winner taking home the NFC North crown and the loser having to take to the road for their first playoff game.
Here's our prediction widget for this week, courtesy of the folks at The Crowd's Line.
The situation for this one is much the same as it was the last time that these two teams got together. The Vikings are on a roll, while the Packers are stumbling and injured. We all know how things went the last time these two teams got together. . .can this time be different?
When the Vikings have the ball, they need to continue doing what's been working over the past couple of games. . .mixing things up and calling more short, quick passes for Teddy Bridgewater to allow his playmakers to gain yardage after the catch. Adrian Peterson will still be the focal point of the offense, but this team has gotten some big contributions from Jerick McKinnon over the past couple of weeks as well. McKinnon could be the sort of X-factor that tips the scales in Minnesota's favor in this one. The offensive line absolutely must do a better job of protecting Bridgewater than they did in the last game, as the Packers collected six sacks (after totalling zero in the three games leading up to that contest). Much like he did in 2014, Bridgewater is playing his best football in the final month of the season, and for that trend to continue the Vikings need to keep him upright.
When Green Bay has the ball, on the other hand, the Vikings need to keep Aaron Rodgers contained. In the last game, Rodgers completed less than half of his passes, but made enough plays after he got outside of the pocket to be productive against the Vikings' defense. Minnesota also has to keep an eye on Eddie Lacy, who's been generally useless for the 14 other games the Packers have played this year but seems to come to life whenever he plays against Minnesota. That might be tougher to do without Linval Joseph in the middle (and he likely won't be out there on Sunday), but if the Vikings can get back to the same sort of solid tackling they've gotten for the better part of the year they should be able to limit him.
When I sat down with the folks from PackersTalk.com earlier in the week, I said that I was trying to keep from getting too optimistic. . .any Vikings fan that says they aren't prepared for the worst is either lying or hasn't been a Vikings fan for very long. That's what we do.
But, you know what? To hell with all that. This team has been all about breaking curses and slaying dragons this season, and this could possibly be the biggest one of them all. They've won at Chicago and at Detroit this season, and both the Bears and Lions went into Lambeau Field this year and walked out with victories. Let's see both of those streaks continue on Sunday night.
Vikings 24, Packers 21, with the NFC North title and a home playoff game coming to TCF Bank Stadium.
That's how I see it, ladies and gentlemen. Who have you got in this one?