The Green Bay Packers locked in the top seeding in the NFC after a 37-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on a chilly evening at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams spearheaded the Packers victory, connecting 11 times for 136 yards including one touchdown as Green Bay became the first team in NFL history to win 13 games in three consecutive seasons.

Adams brought up 118 yards in the first half which was his most yards in a half since 2019, as the Packers raced to a 20-3 half-time lead.

Rodgers threw 29 of 38 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns, while running back AJ Dillon had 14 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

The Vikings struggled without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins who entered COVID-19 protocols late in the week, managing only 70 total yards in the first half which was their fewest in a first half since 2019.

Back-up Vikings QB Sean Mannion, making only his third NFL start in his seventh season, threw his first career touchdown to KJ Osborn in a rare bright spot for the visitors. Mannion completed 22 of 36 passes for 189 yards with no interceptions.

The win means the Packers have secured a first-round bye in the postseason and home ground advantage from the divisional playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers locked in the top seeding in the NFC after a 37-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on a chilly evening at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams spearheaded the Packers victory, connecting 11 times for 136 yards including one touchdown as Green Bay became the first team in NFL history to win 13 games in three consecutive seasons.

Adams brought up 118 yards in the first half which was his most yards in a half since 2019, as the Packers raced to a 20-3 half-time lead.

Rodgers threw 29 of 38 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns, while running back AJ Dillon had 14 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

The Vikings struggled without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins who entered COVID-19 protocols late in the week, managing only 70 total yards in the first half which was their fewest in a first half since 2019.

Back-up Vikings QB Sean Mannion, making only his third NFL start in his seventh season, threw his first career touchdown to KJ Osborn in a rare bright spot for the visitors. Mannion completed 22 of 36 passes for 189 yards with no interceptions.

The win means the Packers have secured a first-round bye in the postseason and home ground advantage from the divisional playoffs.

The Minnesota Vikings will be without quarterback Kirk Cousins for Sunday's crucial contest with the Green Bay Packers.

Cousins has tested positive for coronavirus and has been placed on the Vikings' reserve/COVID-19 list.

As Cousins is unvaccinated, he will have to isolate for 10 days in line with the NFL's protocols, meaning he could also be a doubt for the Week 18 clash with the Chicago Bears on January 9.

Minnesota (7-8) are second behind the Packers (12-3) in the NFC North and head into Week 17 as the eighth seed in the NFC, one spot off the playoffs.

However, backup QB Sean Mannion previously tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, meaning rookie Kellen Mond looks set to start against Green Bay, with Kyle Sloter the alternative.

Cousins has passed for 3,971 yards and 30 touchdowns this season and looked on course to at least match the respective totals from 2020 (4,265 and 35).

He ranks eighth out of the league's quarterbacks for passing yards this season and tied seventh for touchdowns, while only five players to have made 10 appearances or more have less interceptions than Cousins' seven.

The Vikings are looking to win three straight games against the Packers for the second time this century (also a three-game streak from 2008 to 2009), while a third consecutive victory in Green Bay for the first time since 1993 is also in the offing, though they lost to the Los Angeles Rams in their last outing.

Minnesota are the only team this season without a double-digit loss, and have an average margin of defeat of 4.4 points, the smallest in the NFL.

However, Green Bay have won their last two games by a combined total of three points.

The Packers are 5-1 this season in games decided by a field goal or less – those five wins are tied with the Tennessee Titans for the most in the NFL this season. 

The Minnesota Vikings did not look like a playoff team Monday, but they managed to remain in the NFC postseason picture with a 17-9 defeat of the slumping Chicago Bears. 

Kirk Cousins threw a pair of touchdown passes for Minnesota but finished with just 87 yards passing, the lowest total in his 118 career NFL starts. 

Ugly as it was at times, that proved to be enough for the Vikings (7-7) as the Bears, who lost for the eighth time in nine games, could not find a way into the end zone until the closing seconds. 

Though Chicago out-gained Minnesota 370 to 193, the Bears (4-10) fumbled the ball away three times and came up empty on four of their five red-zone opportunities. 

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields was more efficient than Cousins, completing 26 of 39 passes for 285 yards, but he repeatedly proved unable to complete the big pass when Chicago needed it. 

The Bears made it past the Vikings' 25-yard line on three consecutive second-half drives but saw each of them end with a failed fourth-down conversion. They finally tacked on a Fields-to-Jesper Horsted touchdown on the final play of the game, but by then it was too late. 

That otherwise-meaningless touchdown also emphasised the tightrope the Vikings have walked all year, as it was their 11th consecutive game decided by eight points or fewer, one shy of the NFL record.

The victory kept the Vikings in the NFC wild-card picture but they face an uphill climb, with games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the next two weeks before a home rematch with the Bears to close the regular season. 

The Minnesota Vikings have survived an almighty Pittsburgh Steelers comeback after blowing a 29-point lead to win 36-28 and improve to a 6-7 record in Thursday Night Football.

The Vikings had led 29-0 midway through the third quarter before Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led a remarkable fightback that included three final quarter touchdowns but they left it too late to slump to a 6-6-1 record with only one win in their past five games.

Trailing 36-28 with three seconds on the clock, Roethlisberger threw for Pat Freiermuth in the end-zone but the tight end could not hold the pass under pressure from Vikings safety Harrison Smith despite getting two hands to the ball.

The Vikings had jumped the Steelers with three first-half touchdowns, as Kirk Cousins found Justin Jefferson wide open, before running back Dalvin Cook crossed twice in the second period.

Back-to-back Greg Joseph field goals extended their lead to 29 points in the third quarter before the Steelers responded with Roethlisberger finding Najee Harris in the corner for a TD.

Rookie Harris scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the season early in the last quarter, before Roethlisberger found James Washington down the middle to make it 29-20 with 12 minutes to play.

Minnesota immediately responded with KJ Osborn scoring in a 62-yard play from Cousins, who made 14 of 31 attempts for 216 and two touchdowns, only for Freiermuth to narrow the gap again, with Diontae Johnson completing the two-point conversion to make it a one-play game.

Pittsburgh almost completed a remarkable comeback as Freiermuth could not grasp the last-ditch throw from Roethlisberger who completed 28 of 40 attempts for 308 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer expressed his disappointment and frustration with unvaccinated players Saturday after three of his team's four quarterbacks missed practice due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins and backups Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley had to sit out the evening workout, leaving Jake Browning to take all of the reps under center. Offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, who played center Friday, also missed Saturday's practice. 

The Vikings released a statement prior to the workout that read: "Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, multiple players will be held out of tonight's practice inside TCO Stadium."

Zimmer met with reporters before the workout and did not address the missing quarterbacks by name. 

He did, however, make a plea to his players and everyone else. 

"It’s why people should get vaccinated,’’ Zimmer said. "[If] something like this happens a day before a game that has a chance to get you to the playoffs or something like that, [it could hamper a team].

"This Delta variant is rough. You can see the cases going up every single day now. That’s why, for the sake of everybody’s health, I think it’s important. But some people don’t understand, I guess.

"I am disappointed that this happened. I’m frustrated with, not just with my football players who won’t get vaccinated, I’m frustrated with everybody [who won’t]."

It was not clear when the players who sat out Saturday's practice would be able to return. 

In the meantime, Browning will be the star of the show for the Vikings.

"Jake’s really smart," Zimmer said. "He’s vaccinated. That helps to be the backup. So as we move forward here, he’s going to get a ton of reps.

"I don’t know about saying 'it’s going to go a long way' because we’ve still a lot of camp to go. But we’ll see.

"He’s out there, he’s available, that’s important. It’s important to be available when you’re playing football, a team sport."

The 2021 season cannot play out like the last one did for the Minnesota Vikings.

A team that had gone 10-6 in 2019 was looking to return to the playoffs for a second straight year, led by an impressive array of offensive talent.

Those stars certainly were not the issue.

"I do believe, offensively, we've got to the point where we have a chance to be a really, really good football team," head coach Mike Zimmer said at the end of last season.

"For the first time in my seven years, I thought we had a very, very explosive offense."

Unfortunately, as Stats Perform data shows, an awful defensive unit left Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Co. high and dry.

There is work to do to ensure the coming campaign is not another wasted year.

Offense

The numbers back up Zimmer's comments, making it all the more frustrating for the Vikings' offensive players that they limped to a 7-9 record.

Minnesota ranked fourth for yards per game (393.3) and fifth for yards per play (6.15). Only the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans were ahead of them in both categories.

Quarterback Cousins showed signs of progress as he produced a career-high 35 passing touchdowns and increased his passing yards per attempt to 8.3 from 8.1, albeit while throwing 13 interceptions, as many as in his final year in Washington.

Cousins was aided by the success of rookie Justin Jefferson, who provided an effective deep passing option. Four of the wide receiver's seven touchdowns came on passes of 20 yards or more, as he tied Travis Kelce and Calvin Ridley for the most 20-yard catches in the league (23) and led the way in 25-yard receptions (16). Jefferson's receiving average of 15.9 yards ranked eighth.

The ever-consistent Adam Thielen provided substantial support to Cousins and his less-experienced team-mate, posting 74 catches for 925 yards and 14 TDs.

And yet Cousins looked for wide receivers with just 55.2 per cent of his passes. Although Kyle Rudolph's final season with the team was surely his most forgetful - recording just 28 receptions before a foot injury - second-year tight end Irv Smith Jr. chipped in with five receiving touchdowns, while there was a single score through the air for Cook.

Of course, the running back's best work came on the ground, where he trailed only Derrick Henry for carries (312), total rushing yards (1,557) and rushing TDs (16), almost singlehandedly giving the Vikings the fifth-best running game in football.

Defense

So how did that offense finish the year with only seven wins?

Unfortunately, the defense gave up 433 offensive points to finish 2020 with the sixth-worst such record.

It was a unit hamstrung by departures and then injuries, with a host of young prospects left to hold the fort.

Minnesota certainly could not have planned for an entire year without Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce. Hunter, who had 14.5 sacks and 22 QB hits in 2019, was placed on injured reserve going into Week 1, while new signing Pierce opted out of the year due to COVID-19.

They were always likely to be short at cornerback after losing Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, but Mike Hughes and Holton Hill each played just four games to exacerbate the issue.

Even star linebacker pairing Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr played together for only two weeks before the latter suffered a shoulder injury.

Simply getting these players back on the field again will go a long way to improving the Vikings' hopes.

It will also come as welcome relief to Cousins and his offensive colleagues, as the quarterback should expect to have the ball in his hands more often, having seen the defensive class of 2020 struggle to get stoppages.

Minnesota's opponents converted 70.8 per cent of their fourth downs and 86.7 per cent from fourth and short (four yards or less).

Offseason

Scarred by 2020, the Vikings have focused their efforts on defensive stars in free agency, boosting their depth even further as a host of injured stars prepare to return.

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson has arrived on a two-year, $21million contract having posted 3.5 sacks for the New York Giants last year, as many as any Minnesota player besides Yannick Ngakoue (5.0), who left less than halfway through the season.

Patrick Peterson boosts the cornerback ranks, meanwhile, after his three interceptions and eight passes defensed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2020.

The need to recruit a pass rusher was outlined by Zimmer and the first move on that front brought Stephen Weatherly back to Minnesota following a single season in Carolina.

But considering this team missed the playoffs, other areas of need are relatively scarce, although free safety Anthony Harris has left for the Philadelphia Eagles and will be a miss.

They have just over $3million in cap space and the 14th pick in the draft, but the Vikings look to be in a solid position to contend for the postseason – so long as that injury curse does not strike again.

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