Packers keep moving ahead

The Packers’ Clay Matthews warms up before playing the Houston Texans on Dec. 4 in Green Bay, Wis. (AP photo)

By GENARO C. ARMAS

AP Sports Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers have powered through injuries to Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews to surge back into postseason contention.

The fading Minnesota Vikings need a miracle to get into the playoffs, especially if running back Adrian Peterson is sidelined again.

Heated division rivals headed in opposite directions meet this afternoon at Lambeau Field in a game that could help clear up the NFC playoff picture.

Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn would rather muddle things up.

“Most definitely. If we can’t go, they can’t go,” Munnerlyn said.

A four-game winning streak has changed the fortunes of the Packers (8-6). A win over the Vikings (7-7) would set up a winner-take-all showdown at first-place Detroit for the NFC North crown.

“Especially in these division games, it can be taken from you in a heartbeat, so we just got to continue to play well, prepare well, execute and finish,” Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said.

Green Bay has pushed through a spate of injuries all season, including those late in the year to its biggest stars, to overcome a midseason, four-game losing streak.

Matthews has been slowed by a painful left shoulder injury that has kept the long-haired linebacker’s production down in a reduced, pass-rushing role.

Rodgers is still prolific, even if his mobility might be limited. Second in the league with 32 passing touchdowns, Rodgers remains strong-armed and accurate, as evidenced by his 60-yard bomb to Nelson late in the fourth quarter last week against the Bears to set up a winning field goal as time expired.