The Green Bay Packers win what once looked like an unlikely wild card after they crushed the Minnesota Vikings 41-17 at Lambeau Field.
A playoff berth looked like a slim chance as the Packers lost seven out of eight games after a 3-1 start to drop to 4-8.
They responded with three wins in a row ahead of a visit from divisional rivals and NFC North Champions, the Vikings, but still faced the prospect of elimination with a defeat.
That prospect seemed all the more likely when, after a blocked punt, the Vikings intercepted the ball at the Green Bay one-yard line.
However, the Packers held the Vikings to a field goal from there, setting the tone for a nightmarish game for Minnesota.
Keisean Nixon made another 105-yard kickoff for a touchdown, giving Green Bay the lead, which was extended when Darnell Savage deflected the interception on Kirk Cousins’s 75-yard deflected pass.
Cousins turnover was the topic of the day, with an interception by Adrian Amos securing a 21-yard touchdown shot from Rodgers to Robert Tonyan, and a losing error in the red zone allowed the Packers to regain possession and take the field for AJ Dillon to make it 34-3.
Another Cousins interception, this time picked up by Rudy Ford, put the Packers in position for further misery with Rodgers’ two-yard run now likely to lead the Packers 8-8 into the postseason with a win over the Detroit Lions next Sunday.
The Vikings’ 12-4 defeat sees them drop out of second place, meaning the chance of hosting two home playoffs is out of their reach in Week 18.
THE NINES WILL SURVIVE A HUGE TERROR
The San Francisco 49ers now hold two spots as they defeat the Las Vegas Raiders in an extraordinary game at Allegiant Stadium.
An outbreak in San Francisco was expected, but it did not materialize, and Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham led them to 500 yards attacking in his first start after Derek Carr was benched.
Brock Purdy and the 49ers threw for 454 yards, and after Robbie Gould missed a field goal for overtime, Tashaun Gipson’s interception of Stidham allowed the San Francisco kicker to redeem himself and win 37–34.
San Francisco divisional rivals the Seattle Seahawks won 23-6 against the New York Jets, whose playoff hopes seem almost over. Seattle will qualify for the postseason with a win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18 and a Packers loss to the Lions.