When the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings faced off in the season’s opening weekend, it was billed as a showdown between NFC North’s two top contenders.
The rematch Sunday has a different feel.
Green Bay has shown its run to the NFC championship game last year was no fluke by winning five of its first six games. But the Vikings have taken a major step backward after reaching the divisional playoffs last year, as they’ve lost five of their first six.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur cites Minnesota’s one-point losses to AFC South leader Tennessee and NFC West leader Seattle as evidence the Vikings remain dangerous.
Green Bay won 43-34 at Minnesota on the season’s opening Sunday. Green Bay’s Davante Adams had 14 receptions to tie a franchise single-game record and caught two of Aaron Rodgers’ four touchdown passes.
Minnesota has since traded edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore for draft picks, a move that could be interpreted a sign the Vikings are turning the page on this season after a slow start. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t see it that way and said the Vikings made that trade only because they figured they wouldn’t be able to sign Ngakoue in the offseason.
The Packers are 8-0 against NFC North teams since LaFleur took over as coach last year. That matches the team’s longest divisional winning streak since the NFL went to a divisional format in 1967.
Green Bay won 12 straight divisional games from 2010-12. The Packers also won eight straight divisional games in 1996-97 and 2001-02.
Green Bay won at Houston last weekend without leading rusher Aaron Jones, who didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday as he recovers from a calf injury.