GREEN BAY – The bye weekend is here. So which games are Packers fans supposed to watch?
Well, with Green Bay at 8-2 and amongst five teams in the NFC right now with three or fewer losses, plenty of games on Sunday's slate will have an impact on the Packers' positioning for the stretch run.
First and foremost, in the NFC North, the 7-3 Vikings are looking to match the Packers' eight wins and stay just one game back in the loss column (Minnesota has its bye next week).
Coming off a big prime-time road win at Dallas, the Vikings are hosting the Broncos (3-6), whose new QB Brandon Allen will be making just his second NFL start, and first on the road. U.S. Bank Stadium is a tough place to make a road debut, but Allen did win his opener in place of Joe Flacco, against the Browns, and the Broncos are rested coming off their bye week.
Elsewhere in the NFC North, the Lions (3-5-1) are in danger of falling out of contention entirely and will need a home win over the NFC East co-leading Cowboys (5-4) to stay relevant. The biggest issue for Detroit is star QB Matthew Stafford's back injury, which could force him to his second straight game.
Also, the Bears (4-5) are on the road to face the Rams (5-4) in a Sunday night game pitting two 2018 division champions looking to stay in the hunt. Chicago is going for its second straight win following a four-game losing streak, while defending conference champ LA can't afford to fall any further behind San Francisco (8-1) and Seattle (8-2) in the NFC West.
Speaking of those two West Coast teams, the Packers will travel to face the 49ers next week after they host the Cardinals (3-6-1). Just a couple of Thursdays ago, Arizona rallied from a big deficit against San Francisco and took the then-unbeaten 49ers to the wire in a close loss. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are on their bye, just like the Packers.
Among other NFC contenders, NFC South-leading New Orleans (7-2) is aiming to rebound from its clunker performance last week at home vs. Atlanta, while the other NFC East co-leader, Philadelphia (5-4), has a huge spotlight on its home game.
The Saints are on the road at the Buccaneers (3-6), a team that has played a ton of close games this season, including a 7-point loss at New Orleans in the first meeting between these division foes a month ago. Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston has thrown for more than 300 yards in six of his last seven games, but he's also thrown 11 interceptions over that span.
The Eagles are hosting the Patriots (8-1), who suffered their first loss since Week 15 of last year before heading into their bye last week. Coincidentally, New England is facing the two teams tied atop the NFC East in consecutive games, as the Patriots host the Cowboys next week.