Season Could Hang in the Balance Today

The Vikings aren't saying it, but you could tell at practice the importance of today's game vs. Green Bay and the potential affect it will have on the remainder of the 2001 season.

The Vikings weren't exactly tight in practices late this week, but they weren't loose either. They were focused on what they had to do and it was apparent that, while they're not saying it publicly, the 2001 season hangs in the balance today.

With a victory over Green Bay, the Vikings can improve to 3-3 and drop Green Bay to 4-2, pulling the Vikings within a game of the Packers with a win in hand over both Green Bay and Tampa Bay. With a loss, the Vikings will fall three games behind the Packers with a loss in hand to Green Bay -- a difference that, considering the Vikings' schedule, may be too much to make up.

The sense or urgency was there all week and just intensified as practice wore on. The team traded for Stalin Colinet, indicated that Winfield Garnett and Jim Nelson may not only see more playing time, both could start and showed no hesitation in saying the team has to open up the offensive game plan.

The changes may be the result of fear and/or respect for Brett Favre, who is having another MVP type season, but more likely it is the result of the urgency the team faces today -- win and your season is back on track, lose and it could be close to being over.

* The big key other than Favre will be to contain Ahman Green. He went wild on the Vikings as runner and receiver -- in 2000 he became the first player in Packers history to lead the team in rushing and receiving -- and hasn't let up. Through five games, he's third in the NFL with 439 yards rushing and, in 11 career starts, has averaged more than 100 yards and one TD per game.
* Mike Holmgren may miss Green Bay, but not the Metrodome. Holmgren was the first to complain that the Vikings were pumping noise through speakers at the stadium and it may have taken some of his coaching focus away -- he had just a 1-6 career record at the Metrodome.
* If Garnett gets the start at nose tackle as hinted by Green late this week, he would be the fourth player to start at the position since the beginning of the preseason, joining Fernando Smith, Shawn Worthen and Fred Robbins.
* Stalin Colinet starts at left end today and sends Lance Johnstone to the bench. Green had said he expected Johnstone to have double-digit sacks, but, through five starts, he had yet to get a single sack.

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