Lions vs. Packers will decide NFC North title
Green Bay, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns, Jordy Nelson shredded Minnesota’s secondary for 154 yards and two scores, and the resurgent Green Bay Packers beat the Vikings 38-25 on Saturday.
The Packers’ fifth straight win set up a winner-take-all showdown next week with the Detroit Lions (9-5) for the NFC North title, while extinguishing the Vikings’ faint postseason hopes.
The Lions play the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football before the finale against the Packers (9-6) at Ford Field on Jan. 1.
“We’re planning on going to Detroit to win the division,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Merry Christmas.”
While a Lions win against the Cowboys and a loss to the Packers would give Detroit and Green Bay identical 10-6 records, Green Bay would hold the tiebreaker with a head-to-head sweep this season. The Packers beat the Lions on Sept. 25, 34-27.
Though they can't win the division title until Week 17, the Lions can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Cowboys, since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the New Orleans Saints on Saturday.
Green Bay built a 28-13 lead at halftime, with Rodgers accounting for all four scores in the half. He finished 28 of 38, and shrugged off his right calf injury after scrambling for a 6-yard touchdown late in the second quarter and making a rare Lambeau Leap.
“Once I got moving, I felt like myself,” said Rodgers, adding that the sore calf is getting better.
Rodgers and Nelson connected for scores from 21 and 2 yards in the first half. The veteran receiver found seams in Minnesota’s defense, despite the return of safety Harrison Smith from an ankle injury.
Playing again without running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings (7-8) had success through the air after Sam Bradford threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns, including a 71-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in the second quarter.
Thielen had a career-high 202 yards and two scores.
But the Vikings made too many other mistakes to catch up to the Packers.
Maybe they were sluggish after the team plane got stuck in the grass on the way to the gate at a Wisconsin airport on Friday night after making a safe landing, forcing a delay of more than five hours.
The Vikings will miss the playoffs after a 5-0 start.