November to Remember...Not!

This was supposed to be the month that the Vikings asserted themselves as a legitimate contender in the NFC -- perhaps forcing the NFL to flex-schedule their game with the Bears to prime time Sunday night. Three games into the month, now we're thinking that chance has slipped away like a Chester Taylor fumble.

To look at the standings through 10 games, it's hard to conceive that Brad Childress was right when he said, despite a 4-3 record, if the playoffs were to have started Nov. 1, the Vikings would be a wild card.

As it currently stands, the Vikings are four games behind the Bears with six games to play -- all but eliminating them from division title contention. Even worse, the wild card scenarios don't play too favorably either. Pending the outcome of tonight's game, even in a best-case scenario, the Vikings would be two games behind the Giants and Cowboys -- whichever of those would be viewed as a wild card team, two games behind the Saints and Panthers, two games behind the Seahawks and one game behind the Eagles, Falcons and, gulp, the 49ers. They even would have to consider themselves behind the Packers, who have the same 4-6 record but a win in hand over the Vikings.

So much for that "November to Remember" talk.

While not impossible to recover from, the Vikings have put themselves in a position of being in control of their own fate to needing a lot of help. While they may not have to run the table over the final six games, it would seem that anything short of going 5-1 down the stretch will all but eliminate the Vikings from legitimate playoff consideration.

The Vikings still have plenty of chances to turn their 2006 season around, but, after squandering games to three teams that are still .500 or below, the odds of them having a chance to return to Miami in February look good only if Mike Tice can hook them up with tickets.

* Artose Pinner, who committed a pair of costly special teams penalties in the loss to the Packers, was inactive Sunday. Ciatrick Fason saw the field on only three offensive plays, but it sent a message that mistakes won't be tolerated.
* The team-record minus-3 yards allowed rushing will be reviewed this week by STATS Inc. -- the official numbers-keepers of the NFL. In question will be a play that was ruled a seven-yard running loss by Joey Harrington. Even if that play is reviewed and overturned and the Dolphins are credited with four rushing yards, it would still represent a team record.
* The Vikings may see some changes on the offensive line this week. Following the game, the team didn't get into specifics about the severity of the ankle injury to Artis Hicks, but Marcus Johnson was replaced at right tackle by Mike Rosenthal in the second half. It will be a wait-and-see approach to what, if any, changes are made on the O-line heading into next week.
* Cedric Griffin will likely be listed as questionable for next week with a shoulder stinger. He left Sunday's game twice with injuries, the latter coming in the second half. He didn't return after leaving in the third quarter.
* Antoine Winfield suffered a mild concussion on a tackle of Ronnie Brown, his second concussion this season.

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