Vikings, Saints waiting and watching

The Vikings and Saints will play in front of the football world tomorrow night, but Sunday will be about watching what other teams in their division do.

While the Vikings and Saints wait to close out Week 5 of the NFL season, they will both be watching with interest as their division rivals look to distance themselves from both of them.

After a 2-0 start, the Packers have fallen on hard times, dropping their last two games. Not only have they lost games, they've lost cornerback Al Harris for the season and quarterback Aaron Rodgers' streak of consecutive starts may end at just four (about a decade-and-a-half shorter than Brett Favre's streak). He will be game-time decision with an injured shoulder. If he can't go, the Packers will trot out seventh-round rookie Matt Flynn. With three of their next four games on the road and their next four opponents being the Seahawks, Colts, Titans and Vikings, the Packers are by no means having the look of a team capable of running away with the division. The Saints also have a stake in this game, since Green Bay's opponent today is Atlanta, which is tied with New Orleans at 2-2 and a game behind the division leaders, just like the Vikings.

The other game of interest to the Vikings will be the Bears and Lions. Coming off an upset win over the Eagles, the Bears are 2-2 and face hapless Detroit today. The Bears have lost both of their games by three points and have their next four games against the Vikings at home, the Falcons in two weeks and two games with the Lions. If any team has a favorable schedule lined up over the next month, it would be the Bears.

The Lions have finally fired Matt Millen, but at 0-3 already and having allowed 113 points in just three games, there is trouble in Detroit already and some believe they may be mailing in their season just one month in.

The Saints find themselves chasing a pair of 3-1 division opponents in the Panthers and Buccaneers. Carolina is at home against Kansas City today and the Bucs head west to play Denver. A win for the Saints is needed, because at least one of those teams is likely to win and improve to 4-1.

With all eyes prepared to be trained on the Vikings and Saints Monday, both teams will be watching the rest of the league today, hoping that things can fall into place that will allow Monday's winner to step right back into the division title race.


  • There are no teams in the NFC East or NFC South that have a record below .500 and no teams in the NFC North or NFC West that have a record above .500.

  • It would seem the "win at all costs" world of the NFL is undergoing change. Both the Giants and Bears will be without star players today thanks to internal suspensions. The Giants suspended WR Plaxico Burress for repeatedly being late to team meetings and the Bears suspended DT Tommy Harris for an undisclosed violation of team policy.

  • Teams in search of veteran backup QB have another name to add to list, as the Titans' relationship with Chris Simms ended after less than a month. Simms was released over the weekend. However, word is that the move may be more of a salary cap/guaranteed money situation and, unless someone else steps up with a solid offer, Simms will be re-signed by Tennessee next week.

  • Mewelde Moore will get his first start as a member of the Steelers Sunday night. The Steelers have ruled out Willie Parker until after their bye week and rookie Rashard Mendenhall is on injured reserve and out for the season.

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