It’s bad enough when your season implodes and you have a good chance at finishing below .500 after starting your season 5-0. But when it’s revealed that some of your players refused their marching orders and went rogue in a loss to your most bitter rival, you have problems down to your core.
That’s the situation facing the Minnesota Vikings.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was told by head coach Mike Zimmer to shadow Packers receiver Jordy Nelson before last Saturday’s game. But when respected veteran Terrence Newman told Rhodes he would cover Nelson instead, Nelson proceeded to go off on the Minnesota defense.
Although the rogue move last just two series, the damage was done and the Vikings would not catch up the rest of the day, en route to a 38-25 loss which knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs. Nelson finished the game with nine catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Baltimore at Cincinnati: After blowing their chances at Pittsburgh, the Ravens have nothing to play for but pride and a season sweep of the rival Bengals. Cincinnati has won the previous four meetings at home against the Ravens. Bengals 27, Ravens 24.
Houston at Tennessee: The Texans, who have clinched the AFC South, have won the previous five meetings in the series, but have a serious problem at quarterback. Tennessee lost quarterback Marcus Mariota to a broken leg and will rely on backup Matt Cassel. Texans 22, Titans 19.
Carolina at Tampa Bay: The Panthers have owned the Buccaneers in the all-time series, leading 20-12, but had a six-game win streak in the series snapped back in October. The Buccaneers have a slim chance to make the playoffs, but must win for it to happen. Buccaneers 21, Panthers 17.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: The Browns finally got into the win column last week at home against San Diego. The Steelers clinched the AFC North with a comeback win over Baltimore. Even if they rest players, Pittsburgh should have enough to beat the Browns. Steelers 27, Browns 20.
Dallas at Philadelphia: Dallas has nothing to play for with the top seed in the NFC clinched. It still will look to stay sharp for the playoffs. Despite struggling for much of the season, the Eagles would like nothing better than to beat the Cowboys to end the year. Cowboys 23, Eagles 20.
Buffalo at New York Jets: The Bills wasted little time this week by kicking former coach Rex Ryan to the curb before he could face his former team. Buffalo would like to end a bitterly disappointing season on an upswing. New York won the first meeting of the season between the teams to snap a five-game losing streak in the series. Bills 20, Jets 6.
Chicago at Minnesota: The Bears doubled up the slumping Vikings on Halloween 20-10. Despite getting waxed by Washington, Chicago has played well the past month or so. The Vikings can’t wait for this disappointing season to end. If Sam Bradford can stay upright, Minnesota should win. Vikings 23, Bears 17.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis: The Jaguars beat the Colts earlier in the season but have gone 2-9 since. The Colts have also been a huge disappointment and will look to end their season on a high note. Colts 30, Jaguars 27.
New England at Miami: The Patriots are on a roll entering the playoffs, having won six consecutive and 10 of their past 11, but Tom Brady and other key veterans probably won’t see much action this week. Miami clinched a playoff berth last week, having won three straight and nine of 10. Dolphins 29, Patriots 20.
Kansas City at San Diego: The Chiefs have won the past five meetings in the series, including an overtime win at Kansas City last month. San Diego may be playing its last game in the city they have called home since 1961. After losing to the Browns last week, the Chargers will be playing to regain some pride. Chargers 21, Chiefs 20.
Arizona at Los Angeles: The Cardinals are coming off a win at Seattle and would like to avenge an early-season loss to the Rams. Los Angeles is coming off its second loss of the season to the lowly 49ers and is floundering. Cardinals 34, Rams 24.
Oakland at Denver: Derek Carr was lost for the season with a broken leg and the Raiders will rely on backup quarterback Matt McGloin, who has played in just 10 games since being drafted out of Penn State in 2013. Denver was officially eliminated from the playoffs last week in a loss to Kansas City. The Broncos look to end the season on a high note. Broncos 31, Raiders 17.
New York Giants at Washington: The Giants have clinched the fifth seed in the NFC, but would love to knock Washington out of the playoff picture. Washington must win and, unless the Packers-Lions game ends in a tie, will earn a playoff berth. Giants 28, Washington 25.
Seattle at San Francisco: The Seahawks still have an outside shot at earning a first-round playoff bye, but need to win and get some help. San Francisco got win No. 2 last week, but hasn’t been very competitive for much of the schedule. Seahawks 30, 49ers 17.
New Orleans at Atlanta: The Saints have won two in a row and would love to prevent the Falcons from earning a first-round playoff bye. The Falcons buried the Saints in September 45-32, but New Orleans has improved since. Atlanta will be motivated. Falcons 41, Saints 35.
Green Bay at Detroit: The Packers dominated the Lions in the first half of their Week 3 victory, before the Lions stormed back before falling 34-27. Detroit, however, has had several chances to put the NFC North title in its back pocket but has failed miserably. Now the Lions face a red-hot Aaron Rodgers and company and face the possibility of missing the playoffs altogether. Packers 35, Lions 31.
Last week: 9-7 (.563).
For the season: 153-85-2 (.642).
Predicting the Packers: 10-5 (.667).