The Vikings' chances of making the playoffs are very slim, but they can still affect the overall look of the playoffs in their final games.
The Vikings 2010 season has four games remaining (most fans have abandoned the notion that the Vikings will make the playoffs) and their role has been reduced to that of spoiler. While they may not be heading to the postseason, they could have a big impact on who does and doesn't make the playoffs.
The Vikings next three games are against the Giants, Bears and Eagles. Two of those are against the two teams battling it out for the NFC East division title and the Bears are currently riding atop the NFC North.
As such, the Vikings are in a position to help set the playoff table. They not only hold a big role in who goes to the playoffs, but potentially who doesn't.
"We know we still have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs, but we also know that it will take a lot of other things to happen," kicker Ryan Longwell
said. "I'm not sure too many guys are holding out a lot of hope that we can get it done, but we're focused on doing what we can to make the most of this season and we're going to have an impact on the playoffs, whether we're in or not."
The Vikings will be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss on Sunday or a win by the Packers – the Vikings were eliminated from division title contention last week when Chicago won its ninth game. The Saints' ninth win of the season took away one of their wild card opportunities and, with a Green Bay win Sunday, will be eliminated from the wild card chase.
At this point, the motivation for the Vikings may well be to try to save the jobs of Leslie Frazier and their position coaches. If the Vikings end up going in a different direction, the entire coaching staff could be imploded, so, while the games may not have all that much significance, they games are far from meaningless. The Vikings have plenty to play for and the impact of those games will resonate long after the Vikings season comes to a close.
The Vikings are 5-7, but have a 2-0 record against the NFC East, having already beat the Redskins and Cowboys.
The Vikings a 1½-point home underdog Sunday. If Brett Favre doesn't play, look for the spread to bump up to three or four points.
The final injury reports will be released this afternoon and it will be interesting to see where several key Vikings are listed. Favre (chest/ankle/shoulder), Ray Edwards (ankle), Percy Harvin (illness), Chris Cook (knee) and Tyrell Johnson (knee) all didn't practice for a second straight day Thursday. Steve Hutchinson, after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday, also sat out Thursday's practice.
The only Giants player to miss practice Thursday was OT Shawn Andrews (back). RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who sat out Wednesday's practice with a wrist injury, fully participated Thursday.
The Giants continue to hold a grudge against the Vikings after last year's last-season 44-7 beatdown. The Giants were incredibly beaten up along the offensive line and had little to no chance against the high-powered Vikings. Thursday, cornerback Terrell Thomas was the latest Giants player to claim the Vikings rolled up the score last year. You get the feeling that, if given the chance, the Giants and head coach Tom Coughlin may try the same on Sunday.
The attorney for Jenn Sterger has said the model won't sue Favre in civil court if the NFL punishes the quarterback. If the league investigation doesn't punish Favre, Sterger's potential court case would take a significant hit. Favre has denied sending photos of himself to Sterger. Reports out of New York claim that Sterger's attorney Joseph Conway has been pressuring the league to make a decision – one way or the other – on the Favre matter.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has passed Favre in jersey sales, according the league's shopping website. The numbers, which reflect jersey sales from April 1 through Dec. 3 have Favre dropping to No. 7 after leading the league last year. The top 10 include Tim Tebow (what?), Drew Brees, Troy Polamalu, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Rodgers, Favre, Eli Manning, Miles Austin and Mark Sanchez.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.