The weekend begins tonight for Packers fans. Huh?
Yeah, tonight's Vikings at Cardinals game is one half of a two-game perfecta of sorts that could guarantee that, at the least, the Packers would host the Vikings on Jan. 3 in a game for the NFC North title.
That's what will happen if the Vikings lose to the Cardinals tonight and the Packers beat the Cowboys on Sunday. Should that combination of outcomes happen, Packers fans can rest assured their team will do no worse than play for the division title at Lambeau Field, even without winning either of the games at Oakland and at Arizona.
Big weekend, huh? December is so much fun, and here's the way it sets up.
Following tonight's game, the Vikings will host the Bears and Giants, before heading to Green Bay. Following Sunday's game, the Packers will travel to Oakland and Arizona, before hosting the Vikings.
In this reporter's opinion, an extreme combination of wins and losses would be required for either the Vikings or Packers to clinch the NFC North prior to the season finale. One of the teams would need to hold a two-game lead with one to play.
Simply put, Arizona would seem to control the importance of that season finale, and the Cardinals currently possess the league's best combination of rankings: No. 1 in offense (No. 8 rushing, No. 3 passing) and No. 4 on defense (No. 4 against the run and No. 8 against the pass).
That, of course, is for another day. Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Cowboys.
1. Continue the recovery – The Packers' passing game came to life in the second half in Detroit. Was that the start of something, or a temporary flurry?
2. Defend against Jason Witten – Dez Bryant is the Cowboys' home run hitter, but Witten is Matt Cassel's security blanket.
3. Give him the ball – Eddie Lacy is too valuable to the Packers' offense to be absent in December.
4. Stick with the hot hand – Richard Rodgers was the star of the Packers' win in Detroit. He's a fast-rising guy. Let's see how high he can take the Packers' receiving corps.
5. Rush the quarterback – The Packers win when they sack the quarterback.
6. Force turnovers – The Cowboys are last in the league in turnover differential.
7. Break one – Jeff Janis has become a legitimate kickoff-return threat to take it back all the way.
8. Defend your turf –The Packers are on consecutive home defeats. Losing at home is not the formula for winning a division title.
9. Prepare for a wet ball – The forecast is for rain.
10. Feel it! – This is December. This is why you lift all those weights. Nothing else matters. It's win-or-go-home time.