Playoffs could see Packers-Vikings rematch

Stu Courtney
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Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) runs the ball against Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

When the Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings in the regular-season finale, it could determine the NFC North champion. It also could be a dress rehearsal for a first-round rematch in the playoffs.

If the Packers (9-4) beat the Vikings (8-5) in the final game of the season Jan. 3 at Lambeau Field, they will win the division, even if they lose their two preceding games at Oakland and at Arizona. They would own the tiebreaker by virtue of having beaten the Vikings twice.

As NFC North champ, the Packers likely would be the third seed in the playoffs (barring a late-season collapse by second-seeded Arizona) and host a first-round game against the sixth seed, which well could be the Vikings. Minnesota and Seattle have the same record, but the Seahawks own the tiebreaker for the fifth seed after trouncing the Vikings 38-7 in their head-to-head matchup. Seattle also is red-hot, having won its last four games by an average margin of just over 21 points.

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In that scenario, the Seahawks would visit the fourth seed — the winner of the woeful NFC East — and the Vikings would make a return trip to Lambeau Field.

Minnesota can win the NFC North if it beats Green Bay in the season finale and finishes with the same or better record. In that case, the Vikings would own the tiebreaker on the strength of a better division record.

If the Packers and Seahawks both earned wild-card berths and finished with the same record, the Packers would get the higher seed because of their Week 2 win over Seattle. The Packers would visit the fourth seed (expected to be the NFC East winner) and the Seahawks would head to Minnesota. If the Packers wound up as the sixth seed, they would hit the road for their rematch with the Vikings.

The Packers still could claim the second seed, but that likely would require winning their last three games (including Dec. 27 at Arizona) and having the Cardinals (11-2) lose again, either at Philadelphia on Sunday or at home against Seattle on Jan. 3.

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