Vikes-Bucs Prepare for Last Division Game

Dennis Green and Tony Dungy have waged war in helping raise the Vikes-Bucs rivalry to one of the best in the NFL. But, that will end today, as the Buccaneers and Minnesota meet for the last time as division rivals.

Ever since Tony Dungy left the Vikings for the head coaching job in Tampa Bay, he and Dennis Green have never been able to get the upper hand on one another. In each season since he took the Bucs' top job, Dungy and Green have split their season series.

Today, as Green tries to get the win that will give him the edge over Dungy in what the Vikings hope will be a season sweep, it will likely be the last meeting of the two teams as Central Division foes.

Barring a playoff matchup -- the Vikes and Bucs have never met in the postseason -- this will be the final game between the two franchises as division mates. After this season, Houston will join the NFL as its 32nd team and the divisions will expand from six to eight, with four teams in each division. As a result, a team is taken out of the existing five-team divisions and, in the case of the NFC Central, that's Tampa Bay.

While the NFL maintained the integrity of the old Black and Blue Division, the Bucs will be missed. They helped make the rivalry with the Vikings as important as many longer-standing rivalries like the Packers, Bears and Lions. It seems every game over the past few seasons has had some playoff implication and each game has been important, and that's what creates a rivalry. While the teams will still play in the future, it won't be the same as an era comes to an end this afternoon.

SUNDAY NOTES
* If you're wondering why the game is starting an hour late today, you forgot to turn your clock back last night.
* Mike Alstott has been named the starter at running back, as VU is being told Warrick Dunn may be deactivated Sunday, along with wide receiver Jacquez Green. Reidel Anthony has been named the starting WR opposite Keyshawn Johnson today.
* Michael Bennett, who is likely to be deactivated again today, has stopped talking to the media following his foot injury. That's too bad, since Bennett is a personable youngster who was quickly becoming a favorite of Vikings beat writers.
* Keyshawn Johnson and Derrick Brooks have both been upgraded and are expected to start today.
* VU has learned that within the next couple of weeks, the family of Korey Stringer is going to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Vikings and the NFL. No word on the amount of damages that will be sought was available to our source of this information, but, if we hear it before it becomes public, we'll let you know.
* Matthew Hatchette has been a monster bust in New York with the Jets and word is that the team will likely cut its losses and release him after the season. VU has been told that, like Jake Reed, the Vikings wouldn't be averse to bringing Hatchette back at the right price.

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