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Cheese Curds, 12/28: Packers’ path to playoffs is clear, but it’s no cakewalk

That’s especially the case after the team suspended its best cornerback for Sunday night’s game.

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Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The last time the Green Bay Packers played the Minnesota Vikings with both Jaire Alexander and Justin Jefferson on the field, the Packers’ corner got the best of Minnesota’s All-Pro receiver. Jefferson had just one catch on five targets last year on New Year’s Day, as the Packers dominated Minnesota 41-17.

This year’s week 17 matchup is similarly intriguing, though it has huge stakes for both of these 7-8 teams. The loser is essentially out of the playoff hunt, and the winner still needs a bit of help. But the highly-anticipated matchup of Alexander vs. Jefferson will not happen, thanks to last Sunday’s coin toss incident forcing the Packers’ hand and leading to a one-game suspension for Jaire.

His absence will make the matchups that much more difficult on Sunday, with the Packers now relying on rookie Carrington Valentine again to step into the starting lineup. It’s not just Jefferson that the Packers have to worry about, either; rookie Jordan Addison has been impressive in his first season and is forming the other part of a scary tandem.

Nick Mullens is still the Vikings’ quarterback, something that could help even the odds a bit. But while the Packers have a clear pathway for how to get to the postseason — win out and get help from one of two teams — walking that path is hardly going to be easy.

Packers revving up for final playoff push |
Two final divisional games -- along with some help from the Rams and Seahawks -- will decide whether the Packers can find a way into the postseason.

Here’s What Computer Models Say About Packers’ Playoff Chances - Sports Illustrated
Look, the odds aren't great, but the pathway is pretty simple: win out and have either the Rams or Seahawks lose a game. And the Rams will play at San Francisco in week 18, when the 49ers could well be fighting for a chance at a first-round bye.

Packers playoff hopes rest on struggling pass defense vs. Vikings dynamic WRs | Packers Wire
The Packers need to focus on their own opponents for now, and that's going to be a challenge this Sunday night. They just got carved up by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin two weeks ago, and now they'll face Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison.

Why the Packers suspended star CB Jaire Alexander: ‘It’s never for one thing’ - The Athletic ($)
Oh, and of course they'll face that receiver tandem without their best cover cornerback. Here's a look at the reason for the suspension, or at least a discussion of what few public comments Matt LaFleur made about it.

Man dressed as Grinch crashes into NH property on Christmas, police say | WMUR
The hole in the side of the house grew three sizes that day!