The Minnesota Vikings' fourth-ranked ground attack has run roughshod over teams throughout the season, but the health of the team's potent backfield appears to be trending in the wrong direction. With Pro Bowl selection Dalvin Cook and backup Alexander Mattison nursing injuries, the Vikings may need to rely on Kirk Cousins in Monday's game against the visiting Green Bay Packers.
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Although Green Bay walked away with a 21-16 victory in the NFC North rivals' first encounter on Sept. 15, Cook gashed the club for 154 yards on 20 carries -- including a 75-yard touchdown. Cook, however, likely will be a spectator due to shoulder and chest injuries while Mattison (ankle) may stand next to him as third-stringer Mike Boone figures to get the start. While the Vikings are attempting to secure a playoff berth by remaining undefeated at home, the Packers can wrap up the NFC North title should they post their fourth straight victory. "We have the inside track at the 2-seed," Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "Obviously, we have an opportunity to wrap up the division, which guarantees a home game and the third seed, at worst. I like our chances. I like our football team."
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Vikings -5.5 O/U: 46
ABOUT THE PACKERS (11-3): Aaron Jones showed glimpses of what became a career season by erupting for 150 scrimmage yards (116 rushing, 34 receiving) and the first of his five multi-touchdown performances in the first encounter with Minnesota. Jones continued his torrid play with two more scores in Sunday's 21-13 victory over Chicago, giving him 17 (14 rushing, three receiving) on the season -- the most by a Green Bay running back since Ahman Green had 20 in 2003. Defenses solely can't focus on the run game with Davante Adams on the outside, as the talented wideout collected at least seven receptions for the sixth time this season on Sunday. Adams also had seven catches for 106 yards in the first meeting this season versus the Vikings, although he was held without a touchdown grab in that contest after finding the end zone in each of the previous three games against Minnesota.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (10-4): Cousins traditionally has fared well against Green Bay, throwing for 1,372 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 112.8 passer rating in four career contests. The 31-year-old threw for just one score for the second straight week in Sunday's 39-10 romp over the Los Angeles Chargers, although an opportunistic defense paved the way with seven turnovers. Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter, who had two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last week, became the youngest player to reach 50 career sacks after registering an NFL third-best 13.5 in 14 games this season. Safety Harrison Smith is headed to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl after recording his third interception of the campaign in last week's victory over the Chargers, and he had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the Week 2 encounter with the Packers.
1. Minnesota needs one win in the final two weeks or one loss by the Los Angeles Rams to clinch a playoff spot.
2. Green Bay's Blake Martinez leads the NFL with 140 tackles while fellow LB Preston Smith (11.5) and Za'Darius Smith (10) have combined for 21.5 sacks.
3. Vikings K Dan Bailey was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after making all four of his field goal attempts against the Chargers.