To the frozen tundra we go for tonight’s battle for the NFC North title. Here is our coverage team with their bold predictions:
MATT VENSEL, beat writer
The Vikings and Packers are the nightcap on the final day of the regular season, and they will keep the fun going a little later tonight. The battle for the NFC North will go into overtime. And after the two teams swap possessions, Packers kicker Mason Crosby will bang one through to give the Packers a 23-20 victory and the division title.
MARK CRAIG, Vikings beat writer, On The NFL columnist
The Vikings are in a good place. A) They aren't standing in line for the moving van to Los Angeles. B) Their coach and their general manager share one vision. C) They manage their salary cap well. And D) They have a young quarterback who can win now and will be better later. But, for now, there’s a big but coming. … But the Packers aren’t stepping aside this season. In typical NFL fashion, last week’s humiliating loss in Arizona will push a good Packers team to victory as Eddie Lacy once again tops 100 yards and serves as co-pain in the butt along with Aaron Rodgers.
JASON GONZALEZ, Vikings beat writer
Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin will play a role in the Vikings’ victory for a division crown. Martin will erupt for 150-plus yards against Carolina, forcing Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to put together his own standout effort to pass Martin and claim a third NFL rushing title. Peterson will run for 100-plus yards for the eighth time this season and his legs will carry the Vikings to a 10-point victory.
JIM SOUHAN, columnist
The game comes down to a Hail Mary to a large, athletic tight end. Pruitt catches it.
CHIP SCOGGINS, columnist
The Packers appeared vulnerable the last time the teams met but that narrative proved to be false. The Packers look vulnerable again, and the Vikings finally will clear that hurdle. The defense sacks Aaron Rodgers five times, intercepts him once and Blair Walsh wins the game on a late field goal.
CHRIS MILLER, pro sports team leader
With the newspaper delivery truck drivers champing at the bit while chomping on their cigars, the game goes into overtime and the Vikings throw down the gauntlet and run the gantlet and win on a play that should have been blown dead by officials. The writers scramble to hit deadlines, eager (but not anxious) to satisfy the copy desk workers, who home in on the goal and hone the final product while also fine-tuning the Wild story, because the Wild is also relevant. Or is it, the Wild “are” relevant? The answer are blowing in the wind.