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Divisional Playoffs: Vikings Prepare for Saints as Packers Reorg Front Office

Before the 2017 NFL season began, the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, and Seattle Seahawks were tabbed as the NFC elite.

Those three teams did not make the playoffs due to inconsistent play and endured the loss of a franchise star(s) due to injury for a significant part of the season:  quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, running back Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas, and cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor in Seattle.

And so, the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Minnesota Vikings has risen to the top of the NFC and face off in divisional play this weekend.  FOX 25/48 will exclusively televise the Saints-Vikings contest in Minneapolis at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, with the NFL on FOX pregame at 3 p.m. and the post-game show at approximately 8:30 p.m.

In AFC Divisional Playoff play, Tennessee travels to New England to face the top-seeded Patriots Saturday night and the Pittsburgh Steelers host Jacksonville on Sunday afternoon.

While postseason play marches on, the Packers continue with a front office reorg and coaching changes that began Monday with the announcement of Brian Gutekunst as the new GM.  President Mark Murphy also announced a new structure that has Gutekunst, Russ Ball (promoted to VP of football operations), and head coach Mike McCarthy reporting directly to Murphy.

McCarthy is close to completing his revamped coaching staff after hiring Mike Pettine as his defensive coordinator, Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator, Frank Cignetti as quarterbacks coach, and Jim Hostler as receivers coach.

It’s been an eventful start to the offseason for the 7-9 Packers, who failed to make the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons.  As the dust settles with the extensive coaching and administrative changes in Green Bay, the focus will be on offensive and defensive schemes and preparing for the NFL Draft to bolster a roster hit hard by injuries and inconsistent play in a disappointing 2017 that began with Super Bowl aspirations.  

“It very simple in the NFL,” former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka said.  “When you win, everything is good.  When you lose, you know changes are coming.  It’s tough when you lose a franchise quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers didn’t get it done with who they had and had problems on offense and defense.  The Vikings proved, this season, they were the best team in the division.”

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