Sunday Night Football, week 17. Last game of the regular season. Tonight we have a matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers in which neither team may have all that much incentive to win. The Vikings travel to Green Bay to renew a bitter divisional rivalry that goes back more than half a century. Both teams have already qualified for the playoffs. In fact, all the NFL playoff berths have already been decided, with only seeding at stake. The winning team in this game will win the NFC North division and earn a home game in the wild card round of the playoffs. The losing team will become a wild card team and will earn the fifth or sixth seed and a road game in the wild card round.
It is possible both teams will be better off losing this game. If Green Bay wins they get the third seed and a first round home game, and they will get a rematch against the sixth seeded Vikings in the wild card round. If Minnesota wins they get the third seed and a first round home game, and they will face a very tough Seattle team in the wild card round, while the Packers will get the fifth seed and go on the road against the fourth seeded Redskins. So Green Bay has the choice of facing the Vikings at home if they win or the Redskins on the road if they lose. Green Bay probably wants the home game, but the Vikings are better than the Redskins and a road game against Washington might actually be a more favorable matchup than a home game against the Vikings. For the Vikings it's a choice between a home game against the Seahawks or a road game against the Packers. Again, the Vikings would probably choose the home game, but it isn't clear that's a better matchup than a road game against the Packers. This makes for an interesting dilemma for the head coaches of both the Packers and the Vikings. Will either or both decide this game doesn't really matter all that much? Will strategy and/or personnel decisions be made based on the premise that it is better to lose, particularly if one team gets behind big early in the game and has some key players they'd prefer to rest and avoid injuries? This should have been a dramatic finale to the 2015 season with a division title and a playoff home game on the line. Instead the possibility exists of two teams facing each other with neither team having all that much interest in winning.
Enjoy the game everybody. Discuss the game here. The usual rules apply. Do not ask for links to illegal broadcasts of games. Do not provide them either.