Four NFL franchises have made offensive or defensive coordinator changes following their Wild Card Game exits.

The Miami Dolphins have dismissed defensive coordinator Josh Boyer after four seasons with the franchise, despite having the league's fourth-best run defense.

The Dolphins also were ranked 21st in defensive expected points added, 22nd in sacks per pass attempt and 24th in points allowed per game and third-down percentage.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after four seasons, as part of an overhaul by head coach Todd Bowles, with eight other coaches departing.

The Bucs finished the 2022 regular season with an 8-9 record, but ranked 25th in offense, averaging 18.4 points per game despite the presence of seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.

Brady is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is weighing up his future, but Leftwich's departure is unlikely to significantly impact his decision.

The Minnesota Vikings fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, which came as no surprise after finishing the season ranked 28th in points allowed (25.1) and 31st in yards allowed (388.7).

Greg Roman announced he would step down as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator despite having one year remaining on his deal following pressure from fans and players.

Four NFL franchises have made offensive or defensive coordinator changes following their Wild Card Game exits.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after four seasons, as part of an overhaul by head coach Todd Bowles, with eight other coaches departing.

The Bucs finished the 2022 regular season with an 8-9 record, but ranked 25th in offense, averaging 18.4 points per game despite the presence of seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.

Brady is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is weighing up his future, but Leftwich's departure is unlikely to significantly impact his decision.

The Miami Dolphins have dismissed defensive coordinator Josh Boyer after four seasons with the franchise, despite having the league's fourth-best run defense.

The Dolphins also were ranked 21st in defensive expected points added, 22nd in sacks per pass attempt and 24th in points allowed per game and third-down percentage.

The Minnesota Vikings fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, which came as no surprise after finishing the season ranked 28th in points allowed (25.1) and 31st in yards allowed (388.7).

Greg Roman announced he would step down as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator despite having one year remaining on his deal following pressure from fans and players.

Kirk Cousins acknowledged "probably the toughest loss" of his career after the Minnesota Vikings were beaten 31-24 by the New York Giants in the Wild Card round.

The quarterback completed 31 of 39 pass attempts, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another, but it was his final play of the game that will be remembered most.

With 1:44 left in the fourth quarter and Minnesota fourth and eight on their own 48-yard line, Cousins threw to T.J. Hockenson, who was still five yards or so short of first-down sticks.

The alert Xavier McKinney ensured Hockenson only went backwards from there and closed the game out as the Vikings saw their last chance evaporate.

After the game, Cousins explained the thinking that went into the play, saying: "I tried to work Justin [Jefferson], but didn't feel good about putting it up to Justin and then when I went to progress I just felt like I was about to get sacked. I felt like I had to put the ball in play and cant go down with a sack. I felt I'd kick it out to T.J.

"I'd thrown short of the sticks on a few occasions in the game and even going back a few weeks, and felt throwing short of the sticks isn't the end of the world. It was obviously tight coverage so didn't have the chance to pull away.

"It's probably the toughest loss I've had in my career, so it hurts."

Coach Kevin O'Connell backed his quarterback, adding: "Looking back on it, maybe he could've been a little bit more, 'Hey, this is where you want the ball to go', but I want Kirk to play, I want him to be free out there to make good decisions.

"In the end, I look at that as much as anything that it's on me with that play call, even if we had eligibles with a chance down the field. Maybe that's always a play that could be better. That one will always stick with me."

Cousin's opposite number Daniel Jones also threw two touchdowns, completing 24 of 35 passes in the game, and was described as an "elite quarterback" by team-mate Saquon Barkley after the win.

Jones said the Giants just had to overcome early nerves, and they were able to hold out after Barkley's touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter gave them a precious lead.

"I think there were definitely some nerves going into it," he said. "We were excited. There was a lot of anticipating going into it.

"Once we settled in and started playing, it felt the same. It was just about execution and doing our job play after play. I thought as a group we did that well."

The New York Giants snapped a 10-season streak without a playoff win by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 in Sunday's Wild Card game.

New York had not won a playoff game since capping the 2011 season with the franchise's fourth Super Bowl, but they rode a pair of strong performances from their offensive centrepieces to upset the 13-4 Vikings on the road.

Quarterback Daniel Jones became the first player to ever tally 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and 70 rushing yards in a playoff game, while star running back Saquon Barkley had 109 yards from scrimmage and scored two rushing touchdowns.

Incredibly, neither team committed a turnover, with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins also delivering an impressive 273 yards and two touchdowns, but he was unable to produce in the fourth quarter.

It was the Vikings who scored first through a Cousins quarterback sneak from the opening drive of the game, but their lead did not even last until quarter time as Barkley and receiver Isaiah Hodges found the endzone in response.

After trading scores in the second and third periods, the Vikings pulled things level at 24-24 early in the fourth with a field goal, but Jones answered with a defining 12-play, 75-yard drive, setting up Barkley for the game-winning touchdown.

The Vikings had two drives and seven minutes to try and tie things up, but the Giants' defense rose to the occasion and closed it out.

New York will try to continue their march to the Super Bowl next week in the Divisional round against the league-leading Philadelphia Eagles (14-3).

It's time for the Wild Card round on the road to Super Bowl LVII.

Things kick-off on Saturday when the in-form San Francisco 49ers welcome the Seattle Seahawks to Levi's Stadium, while the Los Angeles Chargers travel to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A trio of games on Sunday see the Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins, the Minnesota Vikings facing the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Bengals going up against the Baltimore Ravens, before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys bring the round to a close on Monday.

Stats Perform has taken a look at the more pertinent stats heading into what should be another exciting three days of NFL action as the playoffs begin.

Seattle Seahawks (9-8) @ San Francisco 49ers (13-4)

This will be just the second playoff game ever between the Seahawks and 49ers (Seattle won the other in the 2013 NFC Championship Game).

The 49ers are on a 10-game winning streak, the 13th team in the Super Bowl era to enter the postseason on a double-digit winning streak. The previous 12 teams to do so were 7-5 in their first playoff game that season.

San Francisco won both regular season meetings but have never beaten a single team three times in one campaign (including playoffs).

Geno Smith led the NFL in completion percentage this season, becoming just the second Seahawk ever do so after Dave Krieg in 1991. With 30 touchdown passes, Smith became the third Seahawk to lead the NFC in that category, joining Matt Hasselbeck (2005) and Russell Wilson (2017 and 2018).

Christian McCaffrey has scored an offensive touchdown in each of his last six games, tied for the second-longest streak in the NFL this season. The last Niner to have a longer streak (including the playoffs) was Terrell Owens in 1998 (nine).

Miami Dolphins (9-8) @ Buffalo Bills (13-3)

The Dolphins have lost their last four games in the postseason, scoring just 24 points over those games. Only one team has scored fewer points over a four-game span in the playoffs in postseason history, the Giants from 1939 to 1944 (16 points).

Miami's hopes of improving on that poor record were reduced when starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) was ruled out of this playoff contest.

But they still have Tyreek Hill, who caught 119 passes for 1,710 yards this season – both career highs. No Dolphin had ever had more than 1,400 receiving yards in one season, with the next closest being Mark Clayton in 1984 with 1,389 receiving yards.

For the Bills, Josh Allen has thrown one interception in 228 career passing attempts in the postseason, the lowest rate in NFL playoff history.

This season, the Dolphins' offense led the league, averaging 6.85 yards on first down plays, while the Bills were third (6.13). The teams were close on defense on first down plays as well, with the Dolphins 14th (5.27 yards allowed per play) and the Bills 15th (5.39).

New York Giants (9-7-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (13-4)

This is the Vikings' 31st playoff appearance, currently tied with the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz for the most by any MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL team that has never won a championship.

Kirk Cousins finished with 25 or more TD passes and fewer than 15 interceptions for the eighth straight season. The only other QB in NFL history to have a streak as long is Tom Brady (10 straight, 2009-18).

The Giants are 8-2 in playoff games since the start of the 2007 season, the best record by any NFL team in that time. Four of the Giants' 16 previous playoff appearances in the Super Bowl era have ended in a Super Bowl victory (25.0 per cent), the highest percentage for any team.

Earlier this season, Daniel Jones became the second QB in NFL history to have 3000+ passing yards, 500+ rushing yards and no more than five interceptions in a season, along with Robert Griffin III in his 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign.

Elsewhere...

This will be the Chargers' first playoff appearance since 2018, when they beat Baltimore before falling to New England. The Chargers have won at least one playoff game in four of their last five appearances. They are also 3-0 against AFC South teams in the playoffs since the division was created in 2002.

The Bengals have won eight consecutive games, which is tied for the longest win streak in team history. The Bengals are the only current NFL team without at least one winning streak of at least nine games in their franchise history (regular season and playoffs).

Buccaneers star Tom Brady has thrown for 13,049 yards in his playoff career, nearly 4,000 more than the combined career total for the other 13 projected playoff starting quarterbacks this season (9,184 combined passing yards).

The San Francisco 49ers will host the Seattle Seahawks in the opening game of the Wild Card round.

San Francisco progressed to the postseason as the NFC second seed, and have home field advantage in the first game of this season's playoffs, which will take place on Saturday.

The Seahawks defeated the Los Angeles Rams in overtime in their final regular-season game and were subsequently handed a favour by the Detroit Lions, who eliminated the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers from playoff contention.

In Saturday's second game, the Los Angeles Chargers travel to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who clinched the AFC South title with a 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans.

A day later, the Buffalo Bills, who beat the New England Patriots in an emotional game on Sunday, will host the Miami Dolphins.

The Cincinnati Bengals, whose January 2 game against the Bills was suspended and subsequently cancelled altogether following Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest, go up against the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's final game, after the New York Giants have taken on the Minnesota Vikings.

The Wild Card round concludes with the Dallas Cowboys' trip to face Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The San Francisco 49ers will host the Seattle Seahawks in the opening game of the Wild Card round.

San Francisco progressed to the postseason as the NFC second seed, and have home field advantage in the first game of this season's playoffs, which will take place on Saturday.

The Seahawks defeated the Los Angeles Rams in overtime in their final regular-season game and were subsequently handed a favour by the Detroit Lions, who eliminated the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers from playoff contention.

In Saturday's second game, the Los Angeles Chargers travel to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who clinched the AFC South title with a 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans.

A day later, the Buffalo Bills, who beat the New England Patriots in an emotional game on Sunday, will host the Miami Dolphins.

The Cincinnati Bengals, whose January 2 game against the Bills was suspended and subsequently cancelled altogether following Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest, go up against the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's final game, after the New York Giants have taken on the Minnesota Vikings.

The Wild Card round concludes with the Dallas Cowboys' trip to face Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Minnesota Vikings will finish the season with at least 12 wins, have arguably the finest receiver in the NFL and produced the largest comeback in NFL history last month.

At worst they will be the third seed in the NFC playoffs, and yet it is hard to think of a double-digit win team heading into the playoffs with so few outside the organisation believing they can contend to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

That will be of no concern to the Vikings, but their 2022 resume emphatically illustrates why they are not being taken seriously as potential Super Bowl champions.

Minnesota's season has been one defined by dramatic finishes in close games. Indeed, 11 of the wins the Vikings have claimed his season have been by a one-score margin, including their comeback from 36-0 down to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15.

Their sole double-digit win came in Week 1, when the Vikings eased to a 23-7 victory over the Green Bay Packers, a triumph cancelled out by their 41-17 defeat at Lambeau Field last week.

That loss left them with a point differential of minus 19. The current record for worst point differential in a season with at least 12 wins in NFL history is +21 by the 13-7 Frankford Yellow Jackets in 1925.

The 1925 championship was not decided by a playoff system -- only the most avid of NFL historians would know from memory that the Chicago Cardinals were awarded the title after the Pontsville Maroons were suspended from the league -- and there is a more recent comparison that reflects more kindly on the Vikings.

Minnesota's average margin of defeat this season stands at 22.3 points. That would be the largest average margin of defeat for an NFL team since the 1997 San Francisco 49ers (23.7).

San Francisco went 13-3 that season, which the 49ers finished as the NFC's top seed, and progressed to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.

Whether the Vikings have what it takes to imitate them and go deep into the playoffs despite the heavy defeats that have served to increase concerns about their viability as contenders remains open for debate.

It is a debate that is unlikely to be settled by their Week 18 regular-season finale with the three-win Chicago Bears, but they do have points in their favour, the most notable of which is a cast of pass-catching weapons that ranks 11th in the NFL in win rate against pass coverage.

Justin Jefferson, who is ninth in the NFL in combined open percentage (49.3) against man and zone coverage (min. 100 matchups), is the headline act. Having a receiver who can get open as frequently as he does is an obvious asset for a playoff team, one which has thrived in large part because of his 27 receptions of 20 yards or more.

He is supported by a true number one tight end in T.J. Hockenson and another excellent route-runner in veteran Adam Thielen.

While the Vikings have a cast of weapons that is the envy of many in the NFL, they also have a defensive front that boasts the pass-rush talent to limit opposing aerial attacks.

Minnesota's defense is sixth in the NFL in pass rush win rate, yet the Vikings' success in that regard has not resulted in defensive solidity. To the contrary, their 33 sacks for negative yardage are tied for 20th in the league and their success rate against the pass of 45.5 per cent is the fourth worst in the NFL.

And, even with the substantial merits of Jefferson and Co, there is reason to worry whether the Vikings can keep up with top-end playoff competition if they cannot stop their opponents.

The Vikings' pass protection took a hit with the loss of right tackle Brian O'Neill to an Achilles injury and at center they are down to third-stringer Chris Reed. 

If those injuries prevent Minnesota from adequately protecting Kirk Cousins, then it is unlikely to bode well for the playoff fortunes of a quarterback who has struggled when the defense knows he is passing.

Cousins has averaged minus 0.02 yards over expected in expected passing situations, according to Stats Perform data, which is 16th among quarterbacks with at least 100 such attempts.

In other words, in clear passing situations, Cousins is failing to elevate those around them, and he is getting little support from a run game that many expected to perform at a much higher level than it has displayed this season.

The Vikings' run success rate of 34.6 per cent is comfortably below the average of 37.5, with an O-Line that ranks 23rd in run block win rate struggling to open holes for Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattinson.

There is no doubting Minnesota's talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball, yet the questions that have surrounded Cousins throughout his career persist and there are enough holes elsewhere on the roster to justify the doubts about their prospects as contenders. Football is not played on spreadsheets, but the numbers from an extremely curious campaign will be tough to dispute until the Vikings give the NFL world reason to.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields will miss their season finale against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday due to a hip strain, ending his bid for the NFL single-season quarterback rushing record.

Fields sustained the hip injury in the Bears' 41-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, with Nathan Peterman to start in his absence at Soldier Field.

The 2021 NFL Draft 11th overall selection will finish the regular season 64 yards short of Lamar Jackson's NFL QB rushing record of 1,206 yards.

Fields had undergone an MRI after reporting hip soreness on Monday, with the scan revealing a strain.

"He's just not able to go full speed," Bears head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters on Wednesday. "I asked him how it was today, and he said it's still real sore."

Eberflus insisted that the 3-13 Bears' draft position was not behind the decision to rule out Fields, given they could jump the Houston Texans to earn the No.1 overall pick should they lose and the Texans win their Week 18 games.

"I would just go back to our normal operating procedure," Eberflus said. "So, what is it? It's the medical staff, so he didn't clear that hurdle.

"If he'd have cleared that hurdle, then we'd have to go to the next one, which is the coaches. Is he functioning the way he can function to protect himself, right?

"Then it's the player. Does he feel good about doing that. So, he didn't clear the first one. So, that's just where it is."

Fields will finish the season with a passing completion rate of 60.4 per cent for 2242 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The 23-year-old had 1143 rushing yards for eight touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill has been diagnosed with a partial tear of his Achilles tendon and will require surgery, coach Kevin O’Connell said on Wednesday.

O’Neill, a Pro Bowl selection in 2021, was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday after the steady veteran sustained what O’Connell called a "significant" calf injury during Minnesota’s 41-17 loss at NFC North rivals the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

The fifth-year pro has never previously missed a game due to injury since joining the Vikings as a second-round pick in 2018. O'Neill has started 75 regular-season games and two postseason contests during that span.

"It's going to be a hard thing to replace, especially that consistency," O'Connell said. "What I've challenged some of the guys is understanding the standard Brian set at that position."

Oli Udoh, a 16-game starter mostly at right guard last season, took over for O'Neill last week and will start Sunday's regular-season finale at Chicago as well as the NFC North champion Vikings' upcoming playoff games.

O'Connell said O'Neill is expected to make a full recovery in time for the 2023 season.

Minnesota will also be forced to start third-string center Chris Reed against the Chicago Bears in Week 18 after Austin Schlottmann was also placed on IR after he fractured his left fibula in the Green Bay loss.

Schlottmann had started the Vikings' past four games in place of regular center Garrett Bradbury, who is still recovering from a back injury but is hopeful of returning for the playoffs.

"We felt their loss [Sunday], and we're going to have to do everything we can to have those players stepping into those roles ready to play good football for us and contribute on the offensive side," O’Connell said on Monday.

Aaron Rodgers says the Green Bay Packers' four-game win streak to set up a win-and-get-in scenario against the Detroit Lions "feels really special".

The Packers' season seemed doomed after slumping to a 4-8 record following their 40-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles barely a month ago.

Rodgers finished that Eagles defeat off the field with a rib injury, prompting talk of sitting him out for the season to allow backup QB Jordan Love to gain some experience with little for the Packers to play for.

The four-time NFL MVP, however, vowed to play on despite carrying a few injuries and has helped lift the side to an unlikely 8-8 record capped by Sunday's 41-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

"It feels really special, it does," Rodgers told reporters. "It's been an interesting year.

"It hasn't been my best football at times, but I've been asked to step up my leadership and be someone the guys can count on to keep it together, even when it doesn't seem like there's anything to play for or we don't have a chance to make a run.

"There's been a lot of special moments throughout the year."

Only one team has ever made the playoffs in NFL history after having a 4-8 record.

"It didn't look great for a while and I was resigned to some of those realities being possible," Rodgers said.

"When I took my mind there, I had a peace about it. I had a peace about all of it. Whatever was supposed to happen, I was surrendered to that reality - with also the resolute mindset that we could still get back in this thing.

"I think that's what I'm most proud of, for myself and our team, is that there were a lot of different things that could happen, and we stuck together and we put ourselves in position to do something special."

The Green Bay Packers are a win away from what once looked an unlikely Wild Card berth after they crushed the Minnesota Vikings 41-17 at Lambeau Field.

A playoff place looked a faint possibility when the Packers lost seven of eight games after a 3-1 start to drop to 4-8.

They responded by reeling off three straight wins prior to the visit of division rivals and NFC North champions the Vikings, but still faced the prospect of being eliminated with a loss.

That prospect looked all the more likely when, after a blocked punt, the Vikings got the ball at Green Bay's one-yard line.

However, the Packers held the Vikings to a field goal from there, setting the tone for a nightmare game for Minnesota.

Keisean Nixon returned the subsequent kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown to give Green Bay the lead, which was extended when Darnell Savage returned an interception on a deflected Kirk Cousins pass 75 yards.

Cousins turnovers were a theme of the day, with an interception by Adrian Amos setting up a 21-yard touchdown throw from Rodgers to Robert Tonyan, and a lost fumble in the redzone allowed the Packers to regain possession and drive down the field for A.J. Dillon to make it 34-3.

Another Cousins interception, this time picked off by Rudy Ford, put the Packers in position to pile on further misery with a two-yard run from Rodgers, who now can lead the 8-8 Packers into the postseason with victory over the Detroit Lions next Sunday.

Defeat for the 12-4 Vikings sees them fall out of the second seed, meaning the chance to potentially host two home playoff games is out of their hands heading into Week 18.

NINERS SURVIVE HUGE SCARE

The San Francisco 49ers now occupy the two seed, having held off the Las Vegas Raiders in a remarkable game at Allegiant Stadium.

A San Francisco blowout was anticipated but did not materialise, with Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham leading them to 500 yards of offense in his first start after Derek Carr was benched.

Brock Purdy and the 49ers put up 454 yards of their own and, after a Robbie Gould missed field goal sent the game to overtime, Tashaun Gipson's interception of Stidham set up the San Francisco kicker to redeem himself and clinch a wild 37-34 win.

San Francisco's division rivals the Seattle Seahawks cruised to a 23-6 win over the New York Jets, whose playoff hopes look to be all but 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.

The 2022 NFL season heads into its final two weeks with battles for the postseason and for playoff seeding set to go right to the wire.

Nine teams have already clinched their place in the postseason, and there are seven teams with clinching scenarios in Week 17.

That should make for a fascinating slate of games in which the finer details that often prove decisive will be even more critical.

In a week where so many have so much to play for, Stats Perform has picked out the biggest games of the week and used its advanced data to break down the key matchups that could settle their outcomes.

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Win Probability: Buccaneers 72.9 per cent

Key Matchup: Panthers' run game vs. Tampa Bay defense

The Buccaneers know the task in front of them at Raymond James Stadium: win and, despite an extremely underwhelming season, and they are in the playoffs as champions of the dismal NFC South.

Lose and the Panthers will have the lead of the division with the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay heading into the final week of the regular season.

Carolina stunningly prevailed 21-3 over Tampa Bay in Week 7 and the key to that win will again likely determine whether the Panthers can complete the sweep.

The Panthers averaged 6.4 yards per rush in that victory and head into this game on the back of racking up 320 yards on the ground in a dominant win over the Detroit Lions.

While Carolina had success running the ball against Tampa Bay in the previous meeting, the Buccaneers remain one of the better teams in the NFL defending the ground game. Indeed, their run success rate allowed of 33.7 per cent is tied for the fourth-best in the NFL.

If the Bucs can take away the Carolina ground game and force Sam Darnold to win the game on his arm, Tampa Bay figure to be excellently positioned to claim victory and the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Win Probability: Vikings 56.3 per cent

Key Matchup: Justin Jefferson vs. Jaire Alexander

Way back in Week 1, the Vikings cruised to a 23-7 win over the Packers that set the tone for hugely contrasting seasons. The Vikings have usurped the Packers as the dominant force in the NFC North, though each of their 11 wins since the season-opening defeat of Green Bay have been by one score.

Though the Vikings' ability to close out tight games has been extremely impressive, their inability to put teams away earlier gives them an air of vulnerability that Green Bay will look to exploit as the 7-8 Packers aim to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Still looking over their shoulders at the hottest team in football, the San Francisco 49ers, in the race for the second seed in the NFC, and within touching distance of the Philadelphia Eagles in the fight for the one seed, the Vikings have no shortage of motivation to make it two wins out of two against their biggest rivals this season.

Their simplest route to claiming a comfortable win over the Packers is to feed the man who shredded Green Bay in the season opener. Justin Jefferson had nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in that contest and has continued to embellish his resume as arguably the best wide receiver in football in 2022.

No receiver in the NFL has more receptions of 20 yards or more than Jefferson's 27 this season, and the Packers will be desperate to try to limit his impact at Lambeau Field.

The debate in Week 1 surrounded whether the Packers should have had cornerback Jaire Alexander shadow Jefferson and he will surely look to match up with the Vikings star this time around.

While not performing at his All-Pro level of 2020, Alexander is 23rd among outside cornerbacks with at least 200 coverage snaps for burn rate, which measures how often a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted. Alexander has allowed receivers to win their matchup on 33 of his 72 targets for a burn rate of 45.9 per cent.

Jefferson will still fancy he can get the better of Alexander and, coming off a strong performance against the Miami Dolphins, the latter's ability to contain one of the NFL's premier offensive weapons may have a significant bearing on whether the Packers are playing postseason football in the second full week of January.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills

Win Probability: Bills 61.5 per cent

Key Matchup: Joe Burrow vs. Buffalo pass rush

The Bengals and Bills square off in one of the most significant Monday Night Football games in recent memory with both teams firmly in the mix for the one seed in the AFC.

Defeat for the Bills would likely give the Kansas City Chiefs, who face the Denver Broncos on Sunday, top spot going into Week 18, but it would also see the Bengals leapfrog them and put Cincinnati in position to potentially host two home playoff games. The Bengals also hold the tiebreaker over the Chiefs but are a game back on Kansas City.

Even with a win in Buffalo, the Bengals would likely need help from the Las Vegas Raiders against the Chiefs in Week 18 to top the AFC. Their path to keeping those hopes alive with victory in Orchard Park surrounds the man who propelled Cincinnati to the Super Bowl last season, Joe Burrow.

Though the Bengals' offensive line has improved this year, it still ranks 24th in pass block win rate. Buffalo's defense, missing Von Miller following his season-ending knee injury, is fourth in pass rush win rate.

It is a mismatch on paper, but one Burrow can negate with his ability to get the ball out quickly and accurately.

Only Tom Brady (2.35 seconds) has a quicker average time to throw from snap to release than Burrow (2.45 seconds) among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts, and the Cincinnati quarterback has again been devastatingly accurate with his ball placement. He has delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 87.5 per cent of attempts, the third-best ratio in the league (min. 200 throws).

Burrow is a quarterback who in his still young pro career has shone while under the biggest spotlights. Both he and a Buffalo defense minus the player recruited in the offseason to help put the Bills over the top, will hope to prove they are ready to deliver in the pressure cooker of the playoffs by producing a decisive performance in a game that will go a long way to deciding how complicated each team's path becomes.

Aaron Rodgers was held out of practice on Wednesday by the Green Bay Packers but says he is "feeling a lot better" ahead of Sunday's must-win game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Packers quarterback has been banged up throughout this season, nursing a right thumb injury along with sore ribs, picking up a left knee issue in Sunday's 26-20 win over the Miami Dolphins.

That victory, the Packers' third straight win, kept their playoffs hopes alive with a 7-8 record in the NFC North, but losing to the division-leading Vikings will all but put an end to that, with Rodgers' availability likely to be pivotal.

"I got a lot of body weight on my knee," Rodgers told reporters about the injury sustained when defensive tackle Christian Wilkins fell on him.

"Had some extra flexion I haven't known for the last 20 years. So just been doing rehab the last few days and feeling a lot better."

Rodgers did play out Sunday's win but said fluid began to build on his knee during the flight home from Florida to Wisconsin.

The 39-year-old four-time MVP, who hoped to practice on Thursday, said these issues were part and parcel of the NFL.

"You're dealing with something throughout the year whether it's a major or minor, always got to do the body maintenance," Rodgers said.

"But it's a good opportunity for [backup QB Jordan Love] to practice and get his reps in, and it's a good opportunity for me to get some rest."

The Packers would be eliminated from playoffs contention if they lose to the Vikings, and one of the Detroit Lions (7-8) or the Washington Commanders (7-7-1) win their Week 17 games against the Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns respectively.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson broke his team's franchise record for most receiving yards in a season on Saturday as he starred once again in a win over the New York Giants.

Jefferson caught 12 of his 16 targets for 133 yards and a touchdown in the 27-24 win, which was decided by a 61-yard field goal in the final seconds after Jefferson's final catch brought them into range.

Four games ago Jefferson broke Randy Moss' record for most receiving yards in a player's first three seasons, and he took Moss' name out of the record books once again as he eclipsed his single-season Vikings record.

Moss set the record back in 2003, catching 111 passes for 1632 yards in 16 games, but Jefferson blew past it to reach 1756 yards in just 15 games. With the NFL season now extended to 17 games, he may have a chance to shatter the mark and potentially approach 2000 yards if he plays in Week 18.

Saturday was the 11th time this season Jefferson has registered at least 98 receiving yards in a game, although his total of 133 was only his seventh-best of the campaign, highlighted by a 223-yard performance against the Detroit Lions.

A former first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jefferson burst onto the scene to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honours with 1400 yards and seven touchdowns in his debut season, before going even bigger in 2021 with 1616 yards and 10 scores.

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