The Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings game on Monday night isn’t exactly the NFC North championship game we wanted.
The Packers are still big favorites to win the division, regardless of what happens Monday. Even if they lose at Minnesota, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app, Green Bay takes the division by beating the lowly Detroit Lions in Week 17. The Packers can also clinch the division with a win.
Even if there aren’t ultimate stakes in the game, it’s a matchup of two of the best teams in the NFL. But can either win a Super Bowl?
Packers still in position to win NFC North
For years, the Packers would always be considered Super Bowl favorites because they had Aaron Rodgers. This season they’re 11-3 but it doesn’t seem like they’re one of the NFL’s truly elite teams.
The Packers have a net point differential of just plus-47. The Vikings are plus-119. Heading into Week 16 Green Bay were the ninth-ranked team in Football Outsiders’ DVOA per-play metric. The Packers have been blown out by the Chargers and 49ers this season, and lost at home to the Eagles. The defense that looked so good early in the season hasn’t sustained that.
The biggest difference in the Packers is Rodgers. He is good but no longer the MVP candidate that dominated the early part of the decade. That could be due to a receiving corps that is lacking outside of Davante Adams. Or maybe Matt LaFleur’s offense isn’t the perfect fit. But Rodgers has lost a lot of the aura of invincibility he once had.
The Packers could still make a run, especially if they get a bye. They’ll probably need to win Monday night to remain in play for one of the top two seeds. But they’ll need to find another gear to win a Super Bowl.
Vikings have had a very good season too
It’s arguable that the Vikings, despite being a game behind the Packers in the standings, are the better team.
The difference in point differential is startling. The Vikings rank ahead of the Packers in DVOA and are one of two teams that ranks better than 10th in offense and defense in that category. The Baltimore Ravens are the other.
Packers fans won’t want to hear it, but Cousins is having a better season than Rodgers. Cousins has more yards, more yards per pass, a better completion percentage, more touchdowns and a better passer rating than Rodgers. Rodgers has thrown fewer interceptions. If you prefer Pro Football Focus grades, Cousins ranks fourth and Rodgers is 10th.
Minnesota’s problem is it’s unlikely to win the division, and it might end up as the sixth seed in the NFC. If the Packers win one more game, the Vikings are a wild-card team. The second place team among 49ers-Seahawks could be the fifth seed and get the advantageous first-round matchup against the NFC East champion. Minnesota is a good, well-rounded team but three straight road games in a tough NFC is an incredibly difficult road to the Super Bowl.
If the Vikings get the No. 6 seed, they’d have to play at the No. 3 seed. At the moment, it looks like Green Bay will be that third seed. We might get a winner-takes-all Packers-Vikings game after all.
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports: