NFC North gets tighter as rivalries finally start

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm •  Published: November 29, 2012
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Particularly with so much at stake.

The Packers (7-4) are a game in front of the Vikings (6-5). They play twice in the final five weeks of the season, Sunday in Green Bay and the Dec. 30 season finale in Minneapolis. Both teams also have a game left against the Bears, who lost to Green Bay in September and beat Minnesota last week.

Do the math, and the division standings could be turned upside-down every week from here on out. So, too, the wild-card race, where Green Bay leads and Minnesota is locked in a tie with Seattle and Tampa Bay.

"These are the ones that you live for. These are the ones that, when you're playing in pee wee, you dream about, playing in the NFL against your rival," Christian Ponder said. "Vikings-Green Bay, that's a huge game and obviously what's at stake makes it even bigger."

Green Bay has won its last nine games against its NFC North brethren, a franchise-record streak that dates back to December 2010. You have to go back another year for the Packers' last division loss at Lambeau Field, where they have won 23 of their last 25 regular-season games.

The last NFC North team that won in Green Bay? None other than the Vikings.

"We need to get this Green Bay win," Frazier said. "It's important for us and it's no different for them. They need it as much as we do."

The status of Vikings multi-threat receiver Percy Harvin is doubtful with an ankle injury. But Peterson has put up some big numbers against the Packers, and Green Bay will be without defensive end C.J. Wilson, a cornerstone of the run defense.

The Packers' offense, meanwhile, is trying to figure out how to rebound from last weekend's 38-10 beatdown by the New York Giants that was even more lopsided than the score indicated. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times, giving him an NFL-worst 37 sacks. That's one more than he had all of last season.

But the Packers should get a boost from the return of No. 1 receiver Greg Jennings, who expects to play Sunday after missing the last seven games with a torn abdominal muscle.

And knowing they're facing the Vikings will snap anyone out of a funk.

"Every one of these games is important," Rodgers said. "The NFC is getting tight for the playoff race. Everything's in front of us. If we win out, we win the division, host a playoff game at the very worst. We like where we're at. It wouldn't hurt to have a couple more wins at this point, but we put ourselves in position to make a run, and that's all you can ask for at this time of the season."

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AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Eden Prairie, Minn., contributed to this story.

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