There’s a New Team the Vikings Must Worry about in Playoff Race

A Minnesota Vikings fan signals for a first down during a game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, October 29, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Vikings won the game, 24-10. © Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK.

If you believe the Minnesota Vikings will finish the 2023 regular season at a mediocre clip, for example, a .500 record or so, there’s a “new” team to monitor in the NFC’s wildcard playoff chase.

And, yes — it’s them.

There’s a New Team the Vikings Must Worry about in Playoff Race

After the Green Bay Packers shockingly chipped off the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, Matt LaFleur’s team drew within one game of the Vikings in the playoff hunt. And after Green Bay gets over the hump of Kansas City on the schedule next weekend, the cheese team has a true cakewalk afoot.

Team the Vikings Must
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The Packers’ season to date has suffered up-and-down fate, and until Thursday, Jordan Love and the gang weren’t much of a concern to the Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, or Dallas Cowboys — the current NFC wildcard bunch.

At the moment, Green Bay has a 51% chance of reaching the postseason, according to the New York Times simulation machine. Everything changed per playoff positioning and momentum with the Packers’ triumph on the road at Detroit. They’re 5-6, and the Vikings are 6-5. The two clubs meet on New Year’s Eve.

Green Bay Packers fans dance to “Roll out the Barrell” during a preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, August 26, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. © Sarah Kloepping/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Of course, the Packers must finish strong and can’t afford to drop more than two games. But a 5-1 or 4-2 record the rest of the way should nudge Green Bay into the dance. The situation in Green Bay is markedly similar to last year when Aaron Rodgers and Co. encountered an early-season losing streak but then rattled off multiple wins to almost reach the playoff party in Week 18. The Lions famously took care of the rest.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) runs off the field after their regular season opening game Sunday, September 10, 2023, at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 38-20.

Here’s the Packer’s schedule for context:

  • Week 13: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
  • Week 14: at New York Giants
  • Week 15: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Week 16: at Carolina Panthers
  • Week 17: at Minnesota Vikings
  • Week 18: vs. Chicago Bears

To be clear, Green Bay is not a lock — or anything close to it — to reach the postseason, but it has won three of its last four games, which was essentially required to trek back toward .500. No one, outside of Packers’ fans, are talking about a playoff berth too vociferously right now, but a win over the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Week 13 would awaken the masses and media.

Jaire Alexander Did the Thing
Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander. © Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Love has recently improved via baby steps, and some believe he has turned the corner on a maturity and development curve. His next test is dragging the Packers to the playoffs, a circumstance that the aforementioned Rodgers could not effectuate during his cheese-laden swan song.

Oddsmakers list the Packers’ playoffs probability at a +120 moneyline, which is 45.4%.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by