The Green Bay Packers kicked off the new year by destroying the NFC North champions.
Following the Washington Commanders’ loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Packers knew they would make the playoffs by winning their final two games.
And they made a statement on Sunday afternoon, handing the Minnesota Vikings a 41-17 defeat at Lambeau Field. It means Green Bay needs just one more win to secure the seventh seed in the NFC.
Green Bay made a disastrous start. Despite forcing a three-and-out on Minnesota’s opening possession, the Packers had a punt blocked on their first drive. The Vikings took over on the Packers’ two-yard line.
At that stage, you may have feared the worst.
But Joe Barry’s defense stepped up and held Minnesota to a field goal. The defense wouldn’t allow another point until the fourth quarter when the game was over.
Following that moment, it was all one-way traffic. Green Bay dominated in every phase of the game and handed Minnesota an embarrassing loss to kick off 2023.
Matt LaFleur’s team did everything it needed to do.
Stop Justin Jefferson — check. Jefferson had one catch for 15 yards.
Run the ball — check. Green Bay rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns at 5.1 yards per attempt.
Force turnovers — check. Green Bay intercepted Kirk Cousins three times and forced one fumble. Keisean Nixon also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
It was a dominant performance by the Packers, and perhaps a statement to the rest of the NFC. Not many teams will want to play them later this month.
With this win, the Packers know their task. They must defeat the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field in Week 18. If they achieve this, it doesn’t matter what happens in any other game.
Win, and Green Bay will make the playoffs. What an incredible turnaround we have seen over the past four games.