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Packers Pregame Primer: Green Bay vs. Minnesota

Packers Pregame Primer: Green Bay vs. Minnesota
Posted at 5:20 PM, Dec 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-22 19:08:57-05

With playoff hopes dashed, the Packers host their last home game of the season, as the NFC North champ Vikings come to town for a Saturday night edition of “Sunday Night Football” at 7:30 p.m. on NBC26.

How to watch
NBC26 will broadcast the game, with play-by-play man Al Michaels joined by analyst Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Michele Tafoya reporting from the sidelines.

  • Don’t miss: NBC26 Sports Director Charlie Sokaitis’ exclusive interview with RB Jamaal Williams during the NBC26 Packers Pregame show from 5:30-6 p.m.

Storylines to watch

  • Pound the rock: Green Bay is one of seven NFL squads to have multiple players with 400-plus rushing yards as well as multiple rushing scores on the season. The rookie running back duo of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams has combined for 851 yards and eight rushing touchdowns alone, and the Packers are the only team to have two rookie backs with 400-plus rushing yard seasons apiece. That being said, expect the Vikings defense to prepare to defend the run early and often, which normally works for them, as the second-best rushing defense in the league, only allowing 85.3 rushing yards per game.
  • Baby, it’s cold outside: The Vikings will likely try to shut down the Packers’ run game and force Brett Hundley to throw more, which forced him to throw three picks last time he saw the Vikings, as well as compile just a 39.6 QBR. However, the game is going to be 8-9 degrees, according to NBC26 Chief Meteorologist Cameron Moreland, which could mean the arms of Hundley and Case Keenum could be irrelevant. While the Packers’ run game has grown over the season, the Vikings’ top two backs, Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, have combined for 1,652 yards from scrimmage, along with nine touchdowns.
  • Youth rising: With the season essentially over for Green Bay, younger and more inexperience Packers have a chance to get opportunities they wouldn’t normally get in December. Backup receivers like Trevor Davis, Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis and even the basketballer-turned-footballer experiment Michael Clark have a chance to prove their worth. Rookie outside linebacker Vince Biegel also figures to contribute, with Nick Perry (ankle/shoulder) doubtful and Clay Matthews (hamstring) questionable. 
  • Hundley not feeling at home: In four starts at Lambeau Field, Hundley compiled a 1-3 record and didn’t throw a single touchdown pass. He threw 73-of-122 (59.8 percent) for 655 yards with five interceptions, notching a 57.2 passer rating over those starts. However, Hundley went 2-1 on the road, throwing for 88-of-130 (67.7 percent) for 879 yards and eight touchdowns, along with three picks. When asked about performing better on the road, Hundley said he “could care less if it’s at home, if it’s away,” and offered no explanation for the mystifying trend, but it’s something interesting to keep an eye on for the Packers’ preferred backup quarterback.
  • Who has more to lose?: In contrast to the Packers’ nothing-to-lose situation going into Saturday evening’s game, Minnesota will be playing for a first-round playoff bye and possibly the No. 1 seed in the NFC, competing with the Eagles for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Minnesota needs to win its final two contests (Green Bay and Chicago) as well as have the Eagles lose their final two to nab the overall top seed. Two wins are also necessary for the second overall seed unless the Panthers do not win the NFC South. (If the the Saints or Falcons win the South, only one win by the Vikings is needed for the No. 2 seed.)

Series snippets

  • Last meeting: Vikings won 23-10 on Oct. 15 at U.S. Bank Stadium
  • Packers lead the all-time series, 60-52-2
  • Green Bay holds the edge at Lambeau Field, 23-18-2

Crunching numbers

  • 4: Times the Packers and Vikings have met on a regular-season Saturday (1973, 1991, 2016 and 2017)
  • .792: Mike McCarthy’s winning percentage against Minnesota at Lambeau Field
  • 12: December wins by Green Bay since 2014 (.800), which is second-best in the NFL over that span behind only Pittsburgh (13-2, .867)
  • 26.5: Packers’ average points per game versus division foes since 2014, which is third-best in the league
  • 367.6: The Vikings offense’s yards per game (No. 8 in the NFL)
  • 13: Sacks notched this season by Minnesota DE Everson Griffen, which is a career-high and fourth-best in the NFL
  • 26.3%: Mark that the Vikings defense has held opponents too on third downs, tops in the NFL
  • 12: Minnesota scoring drives of 80 or more yards in 2017, eight more than they had all of last season

What they’re saying in Green Bay

What they’re saying in Minneapolis

Injury report: Packers

  • Expected to play: LB Vince Biegel (groin), LB Ahmad Brooks (back), DT Quinton Dial (chest/knee), G Lucas Patrick (hand) and LB Jake Ryan (knee)
  • Questionable: CB Damarious Randall (knee), CB Davon House (shoulder/back), G Jahri Evans (knee) and LB Clay Matthews (hamstring)
  • Out: WR Davante Adams (concussion) and CB Demetri Goodson (hamstring) 

Injury report: Vikings

  • Expected to play: C Pat Elflein (shoulder), LB Ben Gedeon (ankle), LB Emmanuel Lamur (foot), RB Jerick McKinnon (shoulder), T Mike Remmers (low back), TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle), NT Shamar Stephen (shoulder) and WR Jarius Wright (foot)
  • Questionable: CB Mackensie Alexander (rib), T Riley Reif (ankle) and S Andrew Sendejo (ankle)
  • Out: CB Tramaine Brock Sr. (foot)