Playoffs? Playoffs?

The Vikings lost yet again at the Metrodome Sunday, but their playoff lives aren't on life support to the degree many would imagine. Not only are they still alive, they don't need that many bizarre things to happen to get back into the driver's seat.

Just when you thought the Vikings were dead in the water in the NFC wild card chase ... thanks to a couple of good turns for Vikings fans, they are still very much alive. While they no longer have their own fate in their hands, their road to the playoffs isn't as complicated as it might seem.

The key stat for the Vikings is 0-4 – their record against the AFC this season. The Vikings lost all four games against the teams from the AFC East, meaning that, if they can win their remaining two games and finish 8-8, their record in the NFC would be 8-4. Since conference record is the second tie-breaker behind head-to-head play, if both the Falcons and Giants lose one of their remaining two games and the Vikings win out, they would "earn" the second wild card spot.

While the Vikings may have preferred seeing the Giants beat the Eagles yesterday – Philly has to go into Dallas this week – now the Vikings have become something of fans of the Eagles. If Philadelphia can win at home vs. the Falcons in Week 17, it would give Atlanta six conference losses. As for the Giants, following their upset loss, the Saints now need two wins to assure themselves of a first-round playoff bye – making their game at the Meadowlands even more critical than before.

Is the Vikings' shot at making the playoffs still a long shot? You bet it is. But, thanks to who they've lost to, the Vikings' hopes of making it to the postseason remain alive…but perhaps not so well.

* The Vikings failed to rush for 100 or more yards for the first time in the last five games. Chester Taylor, who came in with sore ribs, suffered a wrist injury as well Sunday, limiting him to 38 yards on 11 carries.
* Rookie Ryan Cook, who had spent the last several games in a time-share with Mike Rosenthal, got the start Sunday and played all but one series at right tackle.
* Due to a series of injuries to linebackers, the Patriots are holding a cattle call this week for veterans looking for late-season and postseason work. Among them is former Viking Sam Cowart.
* By virtue of their overtime win Sunday over the Buccaneers, the Bears have clinched home field throughout the NFC playoffs. Like last year, if someone wants to knock the Bears off their perch, they will have to do it at Soldier Field.
* Jets defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, who was traded to New York in exchange for Brooks Bollinger, got his first sack of the season Sunday.

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