GREEN BAY – The Vikings visit a cold Lambeau Field on Saturday night.
Here’s the rundown on what to watch for.
1. Pro Bowl receiver: Last year around this same time, Vikings WR Adam Thielen came to Green Bay and torched the Packers’ secondary for 12 catches, 202 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yarder. This year, Thielen already has surpassed 1,000 yards and was just named to his first Pro Bowl. A Division II product from Mankato, Minn., Thielen initially made a name for himself as a possession receiver out of the slot. He’s so much more than that now – a big-play guy with breakaway speed.
The Vikings already have clinched the NFC North title, their second in three seasons. But at 11-3, they’re currently chasing 12-2 Philadelphia for the top overall seed in the NFC, while New Orleans and Carolina, both 10-4, are trying to catch Minnesota for the No. 2 spot and a first-round bye. It’s a crowded NFC playoff picture with a lot on the line. 2. High stakes for visitors:
3. Do-over: When Packers QB Brett Hundley was thrown in off the bench against the Vikings back in Week 6, he was in a tough spot, with an injury-shuffled offensive line and little NFL experience as a signal caller. Though he won’t have top target Davante Adams (concussion), he has more stability up front and seven starts under his belt now. Hundley’s top priority is to protect the football. He threw three interceptions against Minnesota last time.
It’s a given that anytime Vikings LB Anthony Barr’s name is mentioned Saturday night, he’ll be showered with boos from the Lambeau faithful for his hit that broke Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone. Barr was one of three Minnesota defenders named to the Pro Bowl roster this past week – DE Everson Griffen and CB Xavier Rhodes are the others – just another item that bothers Green Bay fans. 4. Rude welcome:
5. Pride and more on the line: The Packers haven’t played a regular-season game without any sort of playoff implications since 2008, so virtually the entire roster is in unfamiliar territory in that regard. But players talked all week about giving it their all against a division rival, as jobs and futures are always being evaluated.