By The Associated Press
MINNESOTA (12-3) at GREEN BAY (7-8)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST, CBS
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Packers by 3
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Vikings 6-8-1, Packers 7-8
SERIES RECORD: Packers lead 64-57-3
LAST MEETING: Vikings beat Packers 23-7 in Minnesota on Sept. 11 in the season opener.
LAST WEEK: Vikings beat New York Giants 27-24 at home on Saturday; Packers won 26-20 at Miami on Sunday.
VIKINGS OFFENSE: OVERALL (12), RUSH (28), PASS (6), SCORING (7)
PACKERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (14), PASS (17), SCORING (18-T)
VIKINGS DEFENSE: OVERALL (31), RUSH (19), PASS (32), SCORING (28)
PACKERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (17), RUSH (27), PASS (3), SCORING (17-T)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Vikings plus-6, Packers even
VIKINGS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Justin Jefferson. The 2020 first-round pick already has set Vikings single-season records for catches (123) and yards receiving (1,756) this year. He set the tone for his record-setting season by catching nine passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ Sept. 11 victory over the Packers.
PACKERS PLAYER TO WATCH: CB Jaire Alexander. Green Bay’s coaching staff got plenty of criticism after the loss at Minnesota for starting in zone coverage rather than simply having Alexander cover Jefferson the entire game. The Packers’ lone Pro Bowl selection figures to spend more time lining up against Jefferson in the rematch. Alexander has a career-high five interceptions, including two in his past three games.
KEY MATCHUP: Packers offensive line vs. Vikings pass rush. The uncertainty of Green Bay’s situation at offensive tackle makes this matchup particularly intriguing. LT David Bakhtiari has missed three straight games as he recovers from an appendectomy. RT Yosh Nijman left the Dolphins game with a shoulder injury. If one or both of those tackles can’t play Sunday, the Packers could have a tough time containing Minnesota’s pass-rushing duo of Danielle Hunter (10½ sacks) and Za’Darius Smith (10). Smith, a Pro Bowl selection, played for the Packers from 2019-21 and had a combined 26 sacks from 2019-20.
KEY INJURIES: Packers OT David Bakhtiari (appendectomy) is expected to play Sunday after missing three games. … Packers DL Dean Lowry (calf) went on injured reserve this week. … WR Christian Watson (hip) and CB/KR Keisean Nixon (groin) are questionable. … Vikings C Garrett Bradbury (back) and Vikings DL James Lynch (shoulder) have been ruled out for Sunday’s game.
SERIES NOTES: The Vikings have won three of the past four meetings. The lone Packers victory during that stretch was a 37-10 blowout in Green Bay last season that Vikings QB Kirk Cousins missed because he was on the COVID-19 reserve list. That game gave the Packers the NFC’s No. 1 seed and knocked the Vikings out of playoff contention last season. The Packers have a 34-26-3 home record against the Vikings. The Packers have gone 16-11-1 against the Vikings when Aaron Rodgers has been Green Bay’s starting quarterback. Rodgers has 57 touchdown passes and eight interception passes against the Vikings.
STATS AND STUFF: The Packers have won three straight and can reach the playoffs if they win their last two games and either the Washington Commanders lose once more or the New York Giants lose both their remaining games. … The Packers would be eliminated from playoff contention if they lose to the Vikings and either the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears or the Commanders beat the Cleveland Browns. … Packers kicker Mason Crosby has played in 256 consecutive regular-season games. In Green Bay’s victory at Miami, Crosby overtook Brett Favre to become the franchise leader in consecutive games played and total games played (also 256). … The Packers have punted only once in each of their past two games. … The Packers have a plus-5 turnover margin during their three-game win streak. … Packers OLB Preston Smith has three sacks over his past two games and five over his past five. … Packers CB Rasul Douglas has intercepted a pass in back-to-back games. … The Vikings already have clinched the NFC North title. … The Vikings are 12-3, but have only outscored opponents 378-373. Their 23-7 triumph over the Packers was their only victory with a margin greater than eight points. … Cousins has thrown 27 TD passes, his eighth straight season with at least 25. The only other NFL players to throw 25-plus TD passes in at least eight straight seasons are Peyton Manning (13), Drew Brees (11), Philip Rivers (11) and Tom Brady (10). … Vikings RB Dalvin Cook rushed for 64 yards against the Giants to increase his total to 5,929 and overtake Chuck Foreman for third place on the team’s career list. The only players to rush for more yards as Vikings are Adrian Peterson (11,747 from 2007-16) and Robert Smith (6,818 from 1993-2000).
FANTASY TIP: Packers RB Aaron Jones is having a strong season with 962 yards rushing and 373 yards receiving, but he’s been playing at less than full strength lately. Although his knee and ankle injuries haven’t caused him to miss any games, Jones has seen his playing time drop. He was on the field for less than 38% of the Packers’ offensive snaps in two of his past three games. Jones had just six carries for 25 yards and two catches for 9 yards against the Dolphins. Teams that have Jones on their rosters may want to start other running backs instead this week if they have quality alternatives.