Sunday is another pivotal day in the NFL playoff race, and for NFC North contenders Green Bay and Minnesota. Both teams are coming off of good ol’ fashioned whippings as well as leaving fans with question marks about the state of the team. If Green Bay had been having a very solid year to this point then the lackluster performance at New York last week wouldn’t be too significant. But the Pack has struggled, and it seems like a potentially meaningful sign rather than something that can simply be shrugged off.
The Vikings, meanwhile, got it handed to them by Chicago when they travelled to Soldier Field last week. Adrian Peterson put it on the grass twice and this is one obvious problem to correct for this Sunday’s game at Green Bay. Christian Ponder will likely have to muster more than the 159 passing yards that still resulted in a far-too-high 43 passing attempts.
There are some very intriguing possibilities this weekend due to Chicago’s home matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks currently own the last 6th and final seed in the NFC playoff bracket and a loss to Chicago would make them 6-6. In this situation a Vikings victory over Green Bay would catapult them over Seattle in the standings and, depending on the results of the Tampa Bay-Denver game, settle them into the 6th playoff spot that Seattle currently occupies.
Then again, a Seattle victory over Chicago would put the Packers in position to overtake the Bears for the division lead with a victory over Minnesota. I can see the headaches forming at computer screens, so I’ll spare you the hypothetical discussion of two ties.
Despite all this, the two (in my mind) most likely (and unexciting) scenarios have not been discussed. Packers’ and Bears’ wins would keep those teams where they are in the NFC North standings and put both Minnesota and Seattle’s playoff lives in jeopardy. Minnesota’s brutal schedule and current position in the standings creates an uphill battle that, with a loss at Green Bay, will likely end their playoff bid. The Packers do not want to fall two games behind the Bears or risk their tentatively safe grasp on a playoff spot so they will have just as much motivation to come out on top. Looks like we’ve got another gritty division game on our hands.