Season Lies in Stopping the Run

The Vikings got another break in the NFC playoff chase last night, but need to make their own stand defensively if they want to have any chance in the postseason.

The Vikings have gone through defensive coordinators over the last half-dozen years quicker than Denny Green goes through form-fitting slacks. With all the changes, the results have been spotty at best.

Several of these coaches have carried the label of "genius" with him, but none more so than Ted Cottrell. A veteran of more than 20 years on the sidelines, Cottrell was hoped to be the answer to what ailed the Vikings' defense.

With the Vikings on the verge of the playoffs, it will be the run of the defense that will likely go the longest way in determining the Vikings' fate.

In their final three games, the Vikings face three teams that would much rather run the ball on offense. Kevin Jones is looking for his third straight game with 150+ yards rushing, the Packers have annually leaned on Ahman Green in December and Clinton Portis continues to be the backbone of the Redskins offense -- rushing 35 times in Saturday's win over the 49ers.

Say what you want about the Vikings offense dictating how far Minnesota can go this season, but more a more accurate look will be defensively. Shut down -- or at least contain -- the run and the Vikings will make the playoffs at the very least. Don't do it and the Vikings will likely find themselves on the road or at home the second weekend in January.

SUNDAY NOTES
* With Carolina losing, the only way a team with a record of 8-8 at best doesn't make the playoffs in the NFC is if the Rams goes 3-0 down the stretch -- an unlikely scenario.
* Daunte Culpepper needs 271 yards to reach 4,000 for the season.
* The Lions have moved from 32nd in rushing to 21st in the last month, thanks to Jones -- who has 551 yards rushing in his last four games.
* The Vikings are 2-4 on the road this year -- the same record the Lions have at home.

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