Full Playoff Schedule Still Possible?

Vikings coach Dennis Green refused to rule out the possibility that the NFL can still operate with a full playoff slate. And he should know.

As the co-chair of the NFL's prestigious competitition committee, Dennis Green has been in the middle of the league's negotiations for the disposition of the games lost in Week 2 of the regular season and now what to do with the playoffs.

The options seemed few and pretty easy -- simply reduce the field of playoff teams to four from six in each conference, eliminate two wild card teams and go on from there. While it still looks as though that will be what ends up happening, VU has heard of a new option to go along with one other remote chance.

VU reported earlier on the scenario under which wild card games would be played midweek following the conclusion of the regular season, something that would create a bizarre situation in which a wild card team would have to play three games in eight or nine days and, if they advanced to the Super Bowl, play five games in 22 days -- not too likely.

A new, but equally strange scenario has emerged, since the option of moving the Super Bowl back a week in New Orleans is becoming a moot point. The new scenario involves playing both conference championship games in New Orleans on Jan. 27 as a sort of day-night doubleheader and move the Super Bowl back a week to a neutral site.

While these are all possibilities -- albeit remote -- for fans who bought tickets for the Super Bowl and made reservations in New Orleans, getting stiffed of that chance would be a public relations nightmare, as would the prospect of season ticket holders losing out on the chance to see their own team at home in a conference title game -- effectively eliminating home-field advantage. Bottom line: Expect the NFL to wait a couple of weeks and then announce that it will reduce the playoff field to four teams in each conference.

THURSDAY NOTES
* As reported in VU on Tuesday, the NFL's officials have agreed to a new six-year contract and will be back refereeing on Sunday. The deal ends a work stoppage that could have broken the referees union had this deal been rejected.
* The injury report for Sunday's game was quite brief. The Vikings had only three players listed -- LB Patrick Chukwuruh (ribs), CB Robert Tate (shoulder) and S Orlando Thomas (ribs) -- and they were all listed as probable. The Bears had no players listed on the injury report.
* The Vikings are planning to arrive earlier than usual to Soldier Field because of heavier traffic levels expected as precautions are being taken to heighten security at NFL games.
* The Vikings also released a statement explaining that it will be intensifying security efforts at the Metrodome, which will include bag searches and restrictions on fans.
* In an interesting note from practice, both Monday and Wednesday, Michael Bennett and Doug Chapman were splitting time with the first unit offense -- perhaps a portent of things to come?

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