The Vikings and Packers have already passed each other twice, like extremely lost ships in the night, this season.
Green Bay started 2-1 while the Vikings started 0-3, giving Cheeseheads the early lead in the battle for border bragging rights.
But then the Vikings took off while the Packers slumped. Minnesota won six of its next seven games and was 6-4 after a Nov. 12 win over New Orleans, while Green Bay lost five of their next six — one of them a 24-10 loss at Lambeau Field to the Vikings — and sat at 3-6 on that same date.
The Vikings had two very winnable games before their bye; the Packers had a daunting slate that included the Lions and Chiefs.
So of course the Vikings suffered narrow losses to the Broncos and lowly Bears. The Packers looked strong in three straight wins, including a huge one Sunday night over Kansas City.
Now both teams sit at 6-6, with this truth greeting the Vikings coming out of their bye week: Not only did they squander a great chance to create separation before the bye, but also their biggest playoff threat is suddenly their biggest rival.
Per the New York Times playoff simulator, which I admit I am a little too prone to checking, the Vikings' chances of making the playoffs are down to 42% after sitting close to 80% just a few weeks ago. The Packers, meanwhile, have shot up to a 71% chance of making it.
Even though the Vikings have the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to that win at Lambeau, Green Bay's soft remaining schedule gives the Packers an edge now — even with a rematch in Minneapolis looming on New Year's Eve night.
There's a decent chance that both teams could get into the playoffs as wild cards. But even if the Vikings finish 9-8, including a win over the Packers, a split with the Lions and a split of their next two AFC road games (at Vegas and Cincinnati) a bid wouldn't be assured (73% likelihood) if Green Bay wins its other four games.
Long story short: That New Year's Eve game, which figured a few weeks ago to have significance for the Vikings, now has major implications for both teams. It could determine which one passes the other for a final time in the night.
Here are four more things to know today:
*Reusse and I talked on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast about the red-hot Wolves, the suddenly dynamic Wild and a variety of Gophers teams.
*Sign of the times: The college football transfer portal opens today, and ESPN is doing live updates on who is entering.
*The Wild are scoring more goals under new coach John Hynes. But their improved goaltending shouldn't be overlooked.
*The Gophers have a new quarterback. Randy Johnson and I will talk about that and more on Tuesday's podcast. On Wednesday, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly is expected to join the podcast.