The long road to the playoffs came into better focus following Sunday's win, as the number of teams in the Vikings' way cleared out somewhat with the 49ers' loss to the Packers.
With three games to go, the Vikings at 6-7 trail the Giants, Eagles and Falcons -- all of whom are 7-6. For the Eagles, their first game on a brutal three-game road trip through the NFC East was successful with a win at Washington, but with the Giants and Cowboys coming in their next two games, their ability to hang in will be severely tested. The Giants don't have it easy, either. After hosting the Eagles next week, the Giants host the 9-4 Saints before closing out their regular season with a road game against the Redskins. As for the Falcons, they get an upset Dallas team this Saturday, followed by a home game vs. the Panthers and a road closer to the schedule at Philadelphia.
Perhaps the best news for the Vikings is that, by playing one another, the teams in front of them are guaranteed to knock each other off. So the plan remains the same -- keep winning and let the rest take care of itself. If the Vikings win their last three games, they're all but assured of making it to the postseason.
* The minus-3 rushing yards for the Lions is the lowest single-game total since the Redskins held the Eagles to minus-12 yards rushing Oct. 29, 1961.
* The Lions offense didn't do the defense any favors Sunday. Of the Vikings' scoring drives, four of them started in Lions territory -- from the 45-, 22-, 18- and 26-yard lines.
* Brad Childress referred to Brad Johnson's performance as "proficient," which likely will bring an end to any discussion of a change at quarterback for this week.
* Detroit running back Kevin Jones is expected to be placed on injured reserve with what is believed to be a broken foot or ankle suffered in Sunday's game against the Vikings.
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