Vikings at Packers – Lambeau Field at 01:30 live on Sky Sports 2
The final weekend of the NFL’s regular season is upon us and as usual it seems to have come round far too quickly my liking. The American Football season is far too short, but to be fair the beating that the players take each time they step on the gridiron, it is understandable that this part of the season is 16 games long.
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Unusually for the NFL’s final weekend, there really are not that many playoff permutations to keep an eye on this Sunday.
In the AFC conference, it is only really the Pittsburgh Steelers who can claim a last ditch place in the post season, although the Indianapolis Colts can also crash the party. However, both of these pre-season fancies for deep playoff runs, require other results to their way if they are going to be playing a second game in January.
The NFC is even more sewn up, with all six playoff teams decided already. But, their specific seeding’s will be finalised on Sunday and I will be looking at the NFC North divisional title race for this final week preview.
The Minnesota Vikings make the tough trip to Lambeau Field to face old rivals, the Green Bay Packers in a game which will decide who tops the division and claims the number three seed for the playoffs.
Although, winning this game could well mean the difference between at home against the Seattle Seahawks and away at the Washington Redskins, both teams professional pride and their fierce rivalry should insure that both teams will be playing flat out for the W.
After all, heading into the playoffs with a win and knowing the wildcard game will be in front of your own fans is an opportunity not to be missed, it could well prove to be the difference between a Super Bowl run and a one and done post season.
The Packers started this season as one of the favourites to win Super Bowl 50 and Aaron Rodgers fantastic QB play along with their 6-0 start, demonstrated why so many people believed this could be their year.
However, injuries and subsequent loss of form has virtually destroyed the Packers hopes of lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy in February, despite them showing some real grit to battle right down to the wire to retain their NFC North divisional title.
They have had to change their scheme’s on both sides of the ball due to injuries to their starters but, the changes have seen them win three of the last four games and with last weekend’s defeat coming at the Arizona Cardinals, they could not have asked for a better run of results to end the season.
The Minnesota Vikings have surprised many with their run to an impressive looking 10-5 record, however there is a question mark over the strength of their schedule which undoubtedly played a part in their successful season thus far.
It has generally been against the big teams where this Vikings team has struggled and even with all the injuries Green Bay have, playing at the home of the Packers on the last day of the regular season is one of the toughest assignments in the NFL.
Three of the Vikings five defeats this season have come on the road and on top of that, one of their home defeats came in Week 10 against the Packers. Many people, including me, were looking for them to beat the Packers that night and really show everyone that they were ready to challenge the established super powers of the game.
Despite them failing that test, the Vikings have shown some resilience to get themselves into the playoff and within one game of taking the NFC North title, after finishing third last year with a 7-9 record.
Minnesota have been racking up the points in their last two games with 38 against the Chicago Bears and they put 49 on the New York Giants, both wins were real team efforts as game manager QB Teddy Bridgewater is never going to light up a game with his deep and daring passing play.
With Adrian Peterson in the backfield, the Vikings will be confident of moving the ball against the injury ravaged Packers D which gives up 116.9 YPG on the ground and I like the Vikings to finally come good in a big game or at least keep it close!
Other teams I like in the final week are: Bears, Texans, Colts & 49ers (although this is low stakes due to the last week being the most unpredictable)
Prices correct at the time of writing.