December 28, 2012
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The rivalry between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings started in 1961, when the Vikings were an expansion team.
Vince Lombardi's Packers dominated the series in the beginning, winning 11 of 14 games while Lombardi was the coach.
That all changed in 1968, when the Vikings became the dominant team in the series. From 1968-1978, the Vikings had a 17-3-1 advantage over the Packers in the games that they played. The Vikings also went to four Super Bowls in that era.
From 1979-1991, the two teams met 25 times, with the Packers winning 17 times. However, the Vikings won two divisional titles during that time, while the Packers didn't win any.
In 1992, things got real interesting, as the two franchises both brought in new head coaches. The Vikings brought in Dennis Green, while the Packers hired Mike Holmgren.
The two paths the teams took over the next 20 years would be definitely different.
Still, since 1992, the series has been tightly contested, with the Packers hold a slight 22-18 advantage over the Vikes.
However, Minnesota did win the only playoff game that the two teams ever played in the 2004 postseason. The Vikings shocked the Packers 31-17 at Lambeau Field, which included the infamous Randy Moss "mooning" incident after he scored his second touchdown of the game.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis used to be a very difficult place to play for the Packers in the 1990s. In fact, the Packers won there only once (1997) in the Holmgren-era. Recently though, the Packers have done much better in Minneapolis; Green Bay has won four of the last six games played at the HumptyDome.
The Packers have held home field advantage over the Vikings at Lambeau Field for the most part, as the Packers have been 15-6 (regular season) at home against Minnesota since 1992.
The whole dynamic of the rivalry changed in 2009, when Brett Favre joined the Vikings. This was after spending 16 years as the quarterback of the Pack, where Favre broke every team passing record in the book.
Favre also won 160 games as the starting quarterback for the Packers, won three NFL MVP awards and led them to a Super Bowl win in 1996
Favre had retired in March of 2008, just weeks after losing the NFC Championship Game, and the Packers decided to move on and give Aaron Rodgers the reins of the franchise. Then in the summer of 2008, Favre decided he wanted to come back. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy decided that they had already turned that page, and in a very messy divorce, the Packers traded Favre to the New York Jets.
Favre retired once again after the 2008 season, but after some reflection, came back and signed with the Vikings as a free agent.
Favre had the best season of his career in 2009, and he and the Vikings swept Rodgers and the Packers on their way to a NFC North title and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings lost that game in overtime to the New Orleans Saints.
Eerily similar to the overtime interception he threw in the 2007 NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants, an errant throw by Favre cost the Vikings a chance to kick a game-winning field goal in the final seconds of regulation.
In 2010, it was Rodgers and the Packers who turned the tables on Favre and the Vikings, as Green Bay swept Minnesota on their way to a glorious postseason, which included a victory in Super Bowl XLV.
Favre retired after the 2010 season.
In terms of the divisional history between the two teams, the Vikings have won more divisional titles. From 1967-2001, when there was a NFC Central division, the Vikings won the division 15 times. In that same period, the Packers won the NFC Central five times.
Since the NFC North division was established in 2002, the Packers have won the division six times and have won one Super Bowl, while the Vikings have won the division twice and failed to reach a Super Bowl.
In terms of Super Bowl history, the Packers have played in five Super Bowls, winning four (Super Bowl I, Super Bowl II, Super Bowl XXXI and Super Bowl XLV).
The Vikings played in four Super Bowls in the 1970s, and lost all four. The last Super Bowl the Vikings played in was Super Bowl XI, when the Vikings lost to the Oakland Raiders, 32-14.
Overall in the series, the Packers lead by a 54-47-1 margin.
The Packers have also won five games in a row in the series. The Packers will be attempting to win their third straight game at the Metrodome this upcoming Sunday. The last time the Packers won three straight at that venue was from 1983-85.
Also, with a win on Sunday, the Packers will even up their record with the Vikings at the HumptyDome at 15-15.
Sunday's game is a huge one for both teams. With a win, the Packers will secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC and get a bye the first week of the playoffs. The Vikings need a win to be the No. 6 seed as a wild-card team.
From an individual standpoint, the game is also important. Both quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson are both in the mix for the NFL MVP award this season.
Rodgers was the NFL MVP in 2011, and he is definitely making noise to become a repeat winner. For the season, Rodgers has thrown 35 touchdown passes (versus just eight picks) for 3,930 yards. Rodgers leads the entire NFL with a 106.2 quarterback rating as well.
Rodgers has made a statement to MVP voters over the last couple of games, in which Rodgers has thrown six touchdown passes without an interception, and has quarterback ratings of 116.8 and 125.1, respectively, versus the Bears and Titans.
Rodgers has also run for two touchdowns in the last three games.
Meanwhile, Peterson is having a monster year, which is unbelievable given that he tore his ACL late last December. He has 1,898 yards rushing so far this season with 11 touchdowns. "All Day" is averaging a robust 6.0 yards per carry, too.
Against the Packers, Peterson has three goals. One, get a win and make the playoffs. Two, rush for at least 102 yards and get over 2,000 yards for the season. Three, rush for 208 yards or more and break Eric Dickerson's all-time season mark of 2,105 yards, set in 1984.
Bottom line, this game will be the first time since 1992 that both teams play each other in the season finale with something on the line for both squads. That game was also at the Metrodome.
In 1992, a win meant the NFC Central title belonged the Packers, but a loss would send them home, and out of the playoffs. The Vikings would have made the playoffs as a wild card, even with a loss, but they wanted the NFC Central title.
The Packers lost, 27-7.
But Green Bay built off of that disappointment and went to the playoffs six straight years under Holmgren from 1993-98. That included three NFC Central titles, three appearances in the NFC Championship Game, two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl win.
Yes...a lot is on the line this Sunday for both the Packers and the Vikings. Time will tell how this all plays out.
That being said, I like last year's NFL MVP to be the difference in this contest.
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