Takeaways: Vikings fall to No. 3 in NFC seed after 41-17 loss at Packers

The Minnesota Vikings are 12-4 with one regular season game to play after a 41-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The Vikings could’ve gotten within one win and an Eagles’ loss of being the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They could’ve ended the Packers’ playoff hopes, but played an awful first half for the second time in three weeks. Green Bay is now in the NFC Playoffs with a win over Detroit on Sunday. The Vikings are either the No. 2 or 3 seed, depending on if they beat the Bears and if the San Francisco 49ers lose to the Arizona Cardinals.

Here are takeaways from Sunday’s loss.


The Vikings potentially have a major problem up front with the NFC Playoffs two weeks away. They lost back-up center Austin Schlottmann and right tackle Brian O’Neill to injuries in the first quarter. Schlottmann has an ankle injury and is out for the year. O’Neill has a calf injury that Kevin O’Connell said Monday was "pretty significant." Garrett Bradbury is still dealing with a back injury and doesn’t have a timetable to return, and Blake Brandel is on injured reserve. The Vikings are down Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland and Ed Ingram as regular starters. Chris Reed, who had never played center until Sunday, had issues getting the snap to Kirk Cousins on time. Oli Udoh filled in with O’Neill out.

The Vikings are razor thin on the offensive line heading to Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 


The Vikings got blown out Sunday, and it got away so quickly they couldn’t stick with whatever the game plan might have been. Josh Metellus had the only big play with an early blocked punt, giving the Vikings the ball at the 1-yard line. They had to settle for a Greg Joseph field goal. Keisean Nixon returned the ensuing kickoff 105 yards for a score. Darnell Savage ran back an interception on 4th-and-2 for a 75-yard touchdown. Joseph missed a pair of field goals, and Kirk Cousins’ second interception of the day turned into Aaron Rodgers hitting Robert Tonyan for a touchdown. In a disaster of a first half, everything that could go wrong did. They weren’t going to mount another historic comeback on the road.


Earlier in the week, Packers’ defensive back Jaire Alexander said Justin Jefferson’s Week 1 performance (9 catches, 184 yards, 2 TDs) was a "fluke." Jefferson, the NFL’s leading receiver, came in needing 209 yards to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record. Alexander broke up the first pass headed for Jefferson Sunday, then mocked Jefferson with a "Griddy." He had no catches on three targets in the first half, and finished with a career-low one catch for 15 yards.

Jefferson is no fluke, but the Vikings need him at his best when the playoffs start.


The first half issues had a lot to do with it, but the Vikings struggled in both running the ball and stopping the run. Until Alexander Mattison got meaningless yards in the fourth quarter with the game over, Cousins led the Vikings with three scrambles for 37 yards. Dalvin Cook had nine carries for 27 yards.

The Packers ran when they wanted, with Aaron Jones getting 14 carries for 111 yards and A.J. Dillon getting 12 attempts for 41 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings are second-to-last in the NFL in rushing attempts, and sixth-worst in rushing yards. They’re 20th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.


Kevin O’Connell has a decision to make entering the regular season finale. Play your starters, try to beat the Bears and hope the 49ers lose to get the No. 2 seed, or rest your starters, accept the No. 3 seed and one guaranteed home playoff game? Jefferson will want to play, needing 194 yards to break Johnson’s record. Having a healthy team for the playoffs is the top priority, and the 49ers are unlikely to lose to the Cardinals. Snaps among regular starters should be limited, at the very least. It could turn Sunday into a glorified preseason game as the Bears having nothing to play for, other than jobs for next season.