Vikings Teeter on Playoff Contention

The Minnesota Vikings caught a break in their playoff standings when Green Bay lost to Seattle, but the Vikings could use a win in Chicago to better their postseason chances.

As improbable as it might seem, the Vikings' dim postseason hopes were rekindled to a flicker with last Sunday's victory over Arizona.

Will they remain alive for another week? Minnesota's game against heavily-favored Chicago on Sunday at Soldier Field will go a long way toward determining that.

The Vikings, who ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Cardinals, currently hold the seventh seed in the NFC. That's because even though Minnesota is one of five teams in the conference with a 5-6 record, it has the advantage in the various tie-breakers.

The Vikings caught an enormous break on Monday when Green Bay lost at Seattle. A Packers victory would have dropped Minnesota to the No. 12 overall seed. Nonetheless, the top six seeds qualify for the postseason, so the Vikings have plenty of work ahead of them and only a short window in which to do it.

The Vikings played the Bears tough earlier this season and if not for a late turnover Minnesota almost certainly would have come away with a victory that would have put their record at a perfect 3-0. Instead, the Vikings lost that match-up on a late touchdown pass by Rex Grossman and then dropped a game the following week at Buffalo.

That set the tone for what has been an uneven season.

Getting any type of read off that first Vikings-Bears meeting is difficult considering both teams have gone through plenty of twists and turns since that time. There is no doubt the Vikings defense is hoping to rattle Grossman and thus force the Bears to commit to running the ball against the NFL's top-ranked rush defense.

The problem is a Vikings' offense that scored 31 points against the Cardinals has yet to show any consistency and going against the Bears' NFL-best defense there is no reason to believe that quarterback Brad Johnson and Co. will be able to put many points on the board.

As much as anything this game will be a test of Childress' coaching and play-calling ability. Childress showed a willingness as a play caller to open up things against the Cardinals' porous defense.

So will he be willing to attempt to stretch the Chicago defense in an attempt to set up the run? More importantly, will he be willing to establish the perception that he is willing to stretch the field?

Childress' track record so far this season would indicate no, but if he doesn't do this Sunday the season likely will be a complete loss for the Vikings and any good the coach did when it came to his play-calling ability against Arizona will be lost.

SERIES HISTORY: 92nd meeting. The Vikings lead the all-time series 48-41-2. The Bears rallied for a 19-16 victory over the Vikings in Week 3, scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown after Brad Johnson and Chester Taylor had a mix up on a handoff exchange that resulted in a fumble.

NOTES

  • CB Cedric Griffin missed part of practice Wednesday because of a neck injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Chicago. Griffin, however, started last Sunday against Arizona with the same ailment.

  • RG Artis Hicks, who sat out last Sunday because of a sprained left ankle, was expected to attempt to take part in a portion of practice Wednesday but is listed as questionable on the injury report.

  • RT Marcus Johnson, who also was out against the Cardinals because of a sprained left ankle, also took part in a portion of practice Wednesday but is listed as questionable.

  • RB Chester Taylor has been battling overall body soreness for weeks and now is listed as questionable because of a wrist problem. He also was held out for a part of practice Wednesday.

  • TE Jermaine Wiggins has a slight MCL sprain in his knee and did not practice Wednesday. He is listed as questionable.

  • NT Pat Williams has been bothered by a knee injury for weeks and is listed as questionable again. Williams continues to miss some practice time but has yet to sit out a game.

  • LG Steve Hutchinson has a knee problem that kept him from taking part in the full practice Wednesday. He is listed as questionable.

  • WR Marcus Robinson has an ankle contusion but is listed as probable for Sunday, meaning it's a "virtual certainty," he will play.

  • LB Napoleon Harris continues to wear a cast on his dislocated left wrist but has played in the past two games and is listed as probable for Sunday.

  • FS Dwight Smith suffered a shoulder sprain Sunday but is listed as probable for Chicago.

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