Yeah, right

Word out of Minneapolis is Randy Moss will not play in Sunday's first-place showdown with the Green Bay Packers. Word out 1265 Lombardi Ave., on the other hand, is humbug.

Vikings coach Mike Tice listed Moss as doubtful for the game, meaning Moss has no better than a 25 percent chance of playing. Tice, however, spoke as if Moss would certainly miss his second consecutive game with a severe sprain of his right hamstring.

"Now that he's accepted the fact that he does have an injury, I think we'll better deal with it," coach Mike Tice told Vikings beat reporters Wednesday. "He's in there rehabbing and training right now."

In a conference call with Packers reporters Wednesday, Tice said the chances of Moss playing were "probably none."

Moss injured the hamstring on Oct. 17 at New Orleans. He played in a total of 11 snaps over the next two games before finally shutting it down for the Monday night loss at Indianapolis.

"It was tough to get him to admit that he couldn't play with the injury," Tice said. "He should get it right."

According to Tice, Moss's injury needs four to six weeks to heal. That means the Vikings hope to get Moss back for next week's game against Detroit or the following week against Jacksonville.

"We want to make sure that he's healed up," Tice said.

The Packers are having none of it and fully expect to face the Vikings' home-run hitter in Sunday's crucial game at Lambeau Field.

Despite Minnesota getting out of the gates quickly at 3-1 and Green Bay staggering to a 1-4 start, the Packers (4-4) suddenly are in position to tie the Vikings (5-3) for the NFC North lead. With so much at stake and with the teams heading in opposite directions — the Vikings have lost two straight while Green Bay has won three in a row — the Packers have no doubt Moss will play.

"I'm not buying that. I'm not buying that," said safety Darren Sharper. "It's the Minnesota Vikings. Man, they like to bluff a lot."

That Moss tried playing in the previous two games before sitting out Monday's game only means the Vikings were trying to save Moss for the vital division showdown. That was Sharper's take, anyway.

Moss has dominated the Packers unlike any other opponent in the league. In 12 games against his Wisconsin neighbors, he has 11 touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards.

"We know that without Randy in the game, it's going to be a different team we're facing," Sharper said. "But we still have to be aware of the guys on the field because you saw Monday night that they still can make plays. And they still have (quarterback Daunte Culpepper) pulling that trigger who can make plays."


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