Injuries Could Be Key Tomorrow

Injuries could play a key role in who wins and who loses tomorrow when the Vikings look to snap their two-year road losing streak at New England.

The Vikings have bigger plans for Moe Williams than in previous weeks. The Patriots remain cautiously worried about Randy Moss. Injuries are factor in both teams concerns heading into today.

For the Vikings, Williams heel injury has kept them guessing as to his availability for Sunday, although indications VU is hearing is that he will play. Aside from looking to extend his team record of seven straight games with a TD, Williams is expected to be the team's primary kickoff return man Sunday. His 51-yard return last week vs. Green Bay was critical to setting up the eventual game-winning field goal.

On the Patriots side, CB Ty Law, expected to play all day opposite Moss, missed Thursday's practice with a leg injury and, despite not being 100 percent, took part in most of Friday's practice. However, safety Tebucky Jones, expected to spend much of his day occupied with Moss as well, didn't practice Friday. He may not play Sunday, which would cause bigger problems for the Patriots to deal with.

The eligibility and, more importantly, the effectiveness, of all three players Sunday could go a long way to determining how the game turns out. If one team has a clear advantage, the walking wounded may be a big reason why.

* D'Wayne Bates, Byron Chamberlain and Henri Crockett were all removed from the Vikings injury list Friday -- a good sign for team depth heading into New England.
* In the last four road games, the Vikings have given up an average of 33 points a game -- being outscored 133-77.
* The stat people are already looking at history. The Vikings 14 straight road losses is still far short of the 23 road losses by the Houston Oilers from 1981-84.
* The Vikings and University of Minnesota continue to negotiate how they would operate a new stadium. The talks -- good or bad -- are expected to conclude this weekend and, by early next week, we should know if they will remain united or look for stadium deals separately.
* The Patriots may be looking to save some of their players Sunday, since they play again on Thursday on the road at Detroit and will have precious little to recoup from the game. As organizations, the Lions and Cowboys have learned how to deal with the annual short week of practice before Thanksgiving.
* A wild card that hasn't been reported much heading into Sunday is that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has never beat the Vikings. In his head coaching career, he is 0-3 vs. Minnesota.
* The Vikings have 27 new players on their roster this year -- the most of any team in the NFL.
* The stomach flu virus that has hit the Vikings over the past couple of weeks has now affected Jim Kleinsasser. He is expected to play, but may not be 100 percent.

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