Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson (24) during the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Packers defeated the Vikings 44-31. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Dead-in-the-Water Vikings Can Deal Major Blow to Packers' Playoff Hopes

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This Sunday’s game in Green Bay has zero implications for the Vikings except when it comes to draft position. That’s the reality of life when you’re 2-8 and completely out of the running. For the Packers it’s a different story however. Green Bay is still in the thick of the NFC North race, just one game behind the Lions and Bears.

That one game deficit doesn’t sound like much, but it might feel like more than one game to the Packers, who have lost three straight including two home contests. They are clearly headed in the wrong direction with Aaron Rodgers on the shelf and their defense struggling to put it together. They are counting on getting a big boost this weekend against the reeling Vikings. The last thing they want is to drop a game under .500, and possibly another game out of first, heading into a huge Thanksgiving showdown with Detroit.

The Vikings certainly are aware how big this weekend’s game is for Green Bay. Will that knowledge give them extra motivation going into a contest that otherwise means very little? Can a team of professionals really pump itself up by embracing the spoiler role?

Athletes play mind games with themselves all the time, looking for that mental edge. It becomes a lot harder to find that edge when your season has gone in the toilet and you have nothing tangible left to play for. You can either pack it in entirely at that point, or you can find reasons to keep getting up for games.

The chance to go into Lambeau and pull off the upset, dealing the Packers’ playoff hopes a major blow, seems like it should be enough to pump guys up. But that assumes they are still engaged at all. The Vikings certainly don’t seem like they’ve waved the white flag, but after their latest demoralizing set-back, who knows? They might be ready to check out.

I expect guys like Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Adrian Peterson will derive motivation from the circumstances of this weekend’s game. Those guys get what it means to be a Viking. They know what a big deal it is to play the Packers, and they will go into this game wanting to win and make life harder for their rivals.

You know Greg Jennings will be pumped up, going back to Lambeau for the first time since leaving the Packers. Whether his injured Achilles will feel good enough to let him play? That’s another question.

Of course you know the fans will be into this one. Even the ones who want the Vikings to lose games and improve their chances of drafting whatever college quarterback has become the object of fan infatuation this week won’t be able to help themselves. Even if they won’t admit it, a lot of them will be rooting for the Vikings to stick it to the Packers and their insufferable fans.

How delicious it would be, going into Lambeau and beating the Packers with so much on the line for Green Bay. How realistic are the Vikings’ chances to pull off such an upset? I would say very realistic. With Aaron Rodgers on the bench and Scott Tolzien in the game at quarterback? And that Packer defense in apparent disarray?

Yeah, the Vikings have a chance this weekend. Packer Nation is jittery as heck going into this game. Don’t let them fool you with their bluster and big talk. They are worried that the season might be slipping away.

The Vikes can help accelerate that downward spiral for the Packers. Green Bay wouldn’t be finished with a loss, but they would be 5-6 and potentially two games out of first with five to play. The way the NFC is setting up this year, the Pack would need to win out from there and finish 10-6 to have any real shot at a wild card.

I’d say it’s not a stretch to call this a must-win for the Packers. The Vikings on the other hand have nothing on the line. That makes the Vikings a dangerous opponent. This game has trap written all over it for the Packers. Draft position be damned, I’m going to enjoy this one. I want the Purple to stick it to the Packers and make all those cheeseheads even more miserable.

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