Depending on where you look up and down the Vegas betting line on Sunday, you see numbers near the obligatory three-point edge to the home team.
Given the Green Bay Packers’ mastery of the Minnesota Vikings in the recent past – regardless of location of said game – heading into Sunday’s clash, the Packers players and coaches are leery of the 2015 Vikings, but are preparing for business as usual. That typically translates into wins.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a record of 11-1 against the Vikings since he had his first two matchups against his mentor Brett Favre. He doesn’t know losing to Minnesota, so confidence reigns supreme in Green Bay, despite home losses to Detroit and Chicago on the hallowed soil of Lambeau Field.
“I’m confident,” Rodgers said. “We haven’t played great against our division at home for whatever reason this year. I’m confident in our guys. They’re coming off a convincing win. Obviously we’re coming off being on the other side of that. We need to bounce back, but you know we’ve had a good home-field advantage here for years, especially last couple years, and we’ve got to kind of tap into that. If the weather is going to cooperate, it will be nice and cold. We look forward to that and we’ll be ready to play.”
Veteran guard Josh Sitton is banking on history to be the Packers savior. In the last two seasons – 2013 against Chicago and 2014 against Detroit – Green Bay has had to win in Week 17 to lock down the NFC North title.
For veterans like Sitton, having the Vikings at home is playing with house money. They took out the Bears when all the chips were in the pot. They did the same against the Lions. Why not complete the trifecta with the Vikings.
“We’ve got a group of guys that have been around, been in these type of games,” Sitton said. “We’ve played in a lot of big games, and it seems like we’re in a big game every week here. We’ve always been in the playoff picture, since I’ve been here. We’ve just had a lot of really big games, and we’ve got a core group of guys that have been here for all that. We’ve definitely got that experience, and we need to draw off that experience to get us rolling going forward.”
Head coach Mike McCarthy is taking a sage approach to the same scenario. They’ve been there. They’ve done that. They’ve kept their place at the throne.
But those teams had Jordy Nelson and a beat up, but healthy, offensive line. They have neither coming into Sunday. While history is on their side, the present is much more disconcerting for the head coach.
“I don’t know. We’re not really looking at the past,” McCarthy said. “We get to walk through a great past each and every day when we come through the doors. We’re focused on beating the Vikings. This is the 2015 Green Bay Packers. This is our opportunity to win a division championship. Just the way we play and the way they play, just the details of that in our preparation, that’s really what this is all about throughout the week. Everything we do from the time we get together is about beating the Vikings.”
Whether they beat the Vikings and continue the trend or finally fall from the prized position to younger, hungrier team with designs on taking them out for the first of multiple times and flipping the script will play out Sunday night. It might even replay the following weekend – Packers Week II: This Time It’s Personal. But, until then, the Packers are clinging to their past dominance as an indicator of future results.
The Bears failed in their quest.
The Lions folded like a card table.
The Vikings? Maybe the third time will be the charm.