Vikings know significance of rivalry game
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Vikings know significance of rivalry game

The Vikings and Packers always have an intense rivalry, but Sunday's game is one of the biggest. The final game of the regular season will determine playoff positioning for both teams, and both of them are on winning streaks. Leslie Frazier and Chad Greenway are buying into the hype.

The Minnesota Vikings have one more streak to break if they want to ensure themselves a spot at the playoff table.

On Sept. 30, the Vikings ended an 11-game losing streak that spanned just over two calendar years in the division with a win over the Detroit Lions. On Dec. 9, they ended their six-game losing streak against the Chicago Bears that spanned back to the 2009 season.

But one divisional rival remains undefeated of late against the Vikings, and it's their biggest rival of all – the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings haven't beaten the Packers since Brett Favre returned to Lambeau Field in purple in 2009.

Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway grew up in South Dakota watching the Vikings and Packers battle for supremacy in the old NFC Central "because it was the only channel we got," he joked.

Now, he gets to be an integral part of the rivalry. He was drafted in 2006 and became a starter in 2007 after he missed out on his rookie season because of a torn ACL in the preseason. Since then, Greenway has seen a lot of Green Bay. This could be the biggest matchup of his era, given the circumstances.

The Vikings might need to win to get into the playoffs and the Packers will likely need to win to help ensure a first-round bye.

"It's huge," Greenway said. "And it's big for them, too. That's the best part. We don't want anybody to come in and lay down and let us in. We want to earn it. We realize how good they're playing right now, and when they get on a roll, we know what they're capable of doing. They have a lot to play for, and so do we, after the game (Sunday) night, the San Francisco-Seattle game. Critical game for us – probably for me, one of the top five games I've played in the NFL."

Considering only four players – Kevin Williams, Antoine Winfield, Cullen Loeffler and Chris Kluwe – have more seniority on the Vikings roster, it will be the biggest Packers game to date for a majority of players on Minnesota's roster.

"If you were going to write a script, this is the way you'd want it to be done," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We have a chance to play at home in front of our fans at Mall of America Field against our NFC North rival, it's great for us. We're definitely looking forward to it."

Obviously the league and its TV partners are, too. The game was moved from noon to 3:25 p.m. Central to attract a bigger television audience. Getting people into the stadium won't be a problem. It's been a sellout for some time and the team is warning fans to be wary of purchasing tickets from unauthorized resellers, saying counterfeit tickets usually increase during high-demand games like this.

To add to the intrigue, both teams are on a roll. The Vikings have a three-game winning streak, equaling their longest of the season. They haven't had a four-game winning streak since the middle of the 2009 season. Four games is also the length of the Packers' current winning streak with their 11-4 record overall. The Vikings are 9-6 overall, but they have the advantage of playing at home, where they are 6-1 this season. They are also coming off a rare two-game road winning streak with quality wins over St. Louis and Houston.

Frazier knew the importance of the Packers game immediately after the Vikings' latest win Sunday at Houston, which was 12-2 at the time, but he wanted to enjoy the win just a bit before moving on with Packers preparation.

"It's an exciting time, but I'm just going to enjoy this one for now and we'll deal with that one after 24 hours of jubilation," Frazier said following Sunday's win.

No doubt the Packers will present a challenge. Not only are they one of the hottest teams in the league right now, they are coming off a rout of the Tennessee Titans. Green Bay beat the Tennessee Titans 55-7, tying the record for most points scored by one team in a game at Lambeau Field. The Packers also fell one point shy of their largest margin of victory in 323 regular-season and postseason games at Lambeau, according to Elias Sport Bureau, a record that was set in 1962 and equaled in 2005.

The Packers have won 26 of their last 30 regular-season games at Lambeau, but, of course, they aren't playing at Lambeau on Sunday and they are 4-3 on the road this year.

After a big win in Texas, the Vikings move from celebration mode into preparation mode once again.

"The funny thing about our business … you don't get to celebrate very long," Frazier said. "We've got a big challenge ahead us, a big challenge."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.