Let's Hope Vikes Don't Party Like It's 1998.

Here comes the fifth game in the five game stretch coming out of the Packers' bye. A stretch where we knew the Pack needed to win two to stay in the thick of things. With opportunities lost in LA, New England and Seattle, Sunday night's Border Battle represents the Pack's last chance at a win that would keep them solidly in the playoff race.

A loss wouldn't mathematically eliminate the Pack, but it would erase the chance at ten wins and would force another 'run the table' scenario that may or may not be good enough for a spot in the NFC playoffs. Of course, with an 0-5 record on the road this season, the idea of a road playoff game doesn't sound especially enticing.

Making the task tougher this week is the fact that the Vikings feel almost as desperate as the Pack, coming off a lousy performance in Chicago. They will be focused, angry and prepared to do their best to knock the Pack to the precipice of 2018 irrelevance.

The Pack gets a slight edge coming in with three extra days rest, but it doesn't seem to have helped the banged up defense. The Pack will be without Mike Daniels (possible for the rest of the season), Nick Perry, Kentrell Brice and likely Kevin King, Bashaud Breeland and Raven Greene. The unit will be tested inside the loud Bank, where Dalvin Cook will likely get a chance to get untracked. They've been so pass-happy, you have to believe they will make a huge effort to be more balanced and take pressure off of Kirk Cousins.

Jaire Alexander will be tasked with doing his best against either Thielen or Diggs and that will likely mean Josh Jackson will get the other. He struggled mightily in Seattle and he gets torched early, he could give away to Tony Brown. There's not much left after Brown. The Pack's secondary is battered and bruised and will hope for another strong performance by the pass rush to force Cousins into mistakes. The Pack will need a couple of turnovers on a night like this against a motivated squad like the purple.

It will also take one of those special performances from Aaron Rodgers. He's raised his hand and admitted that he has not played his best this season, often passing up an open receiver in hopes of finding something better. He'll need to play fast, sharp and on time against a Vikings defense that gets Anthony Barr back. It's hard to know what to expect form the offense. Aaron Jones will continue to be featured, and hopefully not forgotten about in the second half.

Randall Cobb didn't practice all week and appears likely to miss yet another game and Jimmy Graham will try to play with a broken thumb, somehow. Maybe Robert Tonyan steps up and becomes a downfield threat at tight end. Maybe the rookie receivers will step, while Xavier Rhodes tracks Davante Adams all over the field. Maybe the Pack will activate Jake Kumerow and put him in the mix on Sunday night. All we know is we will need a vintage performance from #12 to escape with a win.

We will need to see mistake-free football, no special teams gaffes, good clock management and a patchwork defense that's up to the challenge against a Vikings team with its back up against the wall. We've yet to see it from the Packers on the road this season.

You could probably count on one hand the number of times I've picked the Vikings to beat the Pack in the nine years I've been writing this blog. Here's one for the thumb.

Vikings 27 Packers 24


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