Vikings Control Playoff Destiny

As the Vikings open up the throttle for the stretch run, the have at least one backup plan they didn't have in 2003.

Most Vikings fans haven't forgotten about the 2003 collapse of the Vikings -- that's hard when Mike Tice keeps making references to it when describing his current situation. But there are some distinct differences between that team and this year's team -- most obvious among them the parity in the NFC.

The fact of the matter is that the Vikings don't need to run the table to win the division or make the playoffs. As long as the Vikings win their three division games, they could lose to Seattle and Washington and still likely win the NFC North in a tie-breaker. The possibility also exists -- a strong possibility -- that even if the Vikings go 2-3 down the stretch and finish 9-7 that they would make it in as a wild card.

As of now, the Vikings are doing no talk about wild cards. The division title is their goal and should be -- they're going to be favored in all remaining games this season.

But, unlike last year, where the competition was such that a collapse to 9-7 won't get the job done, it can this year. Whether that will be an acceptable record to Red McCombs or not remains to be seen. But the comparisons to 2003 should stop now.

THURSDAY NOTES
* Bears MLB Brian Urlacher is questionable and some Bears sources don't think he will play Sunday.
* Charles Tillman had to open his mouth to get Randy Moss fired up. When asked about playing against the injured Moss, Tillman said, "Hopefully, we can take advantage of that leg-and-a-half and dominate." Nothing like bulletin board material for an All-Pro.
* David Dixon is showing improvement from his knee injury and is expected to start Sunday.
* Mewelde Moore has been completely removed from the team's injury report, but VU has been told he will likely be inactive again this Sunday because the team won't carry five running backs. Larry Ned's contribution on special teams is too valuable to bench him.
* Tice has indicated that Chris Hovan will return to the active roster -- but only if he has a good week of practice.

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