Vikings might need division title

The Vikings might feel fortunate to have a .500 record with last-minute wins in the last two games, but they just might need to win the NFC North in order to make the playoffs.

Perhaps it's a good thing the Vikings are in the NFC North. As the dust settles on Week 6 tonight with the Giants meeting Cleveland, the Vikings find themselves in a three-way tie atop the NFC North at 3-3. Considering that Minnesota started 0-2, were 1-3 a week ago at this time and could have lost both of their last two games, they have to feel fortunate. However, the balance of power may be shifting from the AFC to the NFC, and the Vikings have to be glad that they're in a division that isn't as strong as the others.

Amazingly, of the 16 teams in the NFC, 12 of them have records of .500 or better. All four teams in the NFC East and NFC South are at .500 or better and each of those divisions has three teams that have marks of 4-2 or better. The longstanding belief that the NFC East would once again produce three of the six NFC playoff teams isn't necessarily true, since the NFC South has three teams with 4-2 records as well as the NFC East.

One thing that is coming into better focus is that it is looking more and more likely that, while the NFC East may not have the stranglehold on the wild cards that was originally assumed earlier this year, the NFC North is likely only going to have one playoff spot – going to the division champion. A loss to Detroit yesterday would have put the Vikings at 2-4, just one game out of the division lead, but two games behind four potential wild card teams and one game behind three others.

A lot can change from week to week, but it is clear that the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC is going to include stops in places like Dallas, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina and possibly even Atlanta. The NFC North will have its own battles to determine a division champ, but unless some teams (as in three, four or five of them) really collapse, it would appear that the only playoff berth reserved for the NFC North is going to be the one reserved for the division champ. Aside from that, it's going to take a lot of things to happen to make the North a viable playoff haven.

MONDAY NOTES

  • There was quite a difference of opinion in the win the Vikings got over Detroit Sunday. Cameras were inside the locker room immediately following Sunday's game, in which Brad Childress called the victory a "good win." The fans who booed loudly throughout the game and chanted "Fire Childress!" at times during the second half may beg to differ.

  • LB David Herron suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury in the first half of Sunday's game. He returned to play in the second half, but was injured again in what may have been a concussion and had to leave.

  • The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday. The Vikings are likely to listen to offers from other teams, but don't expect to see a big deal made since the Vikings gave up three top draft picks last year to acquire Jared Allen.

  • The Vikings have beaten the Lions 11 straight times at the Metrodome.

  • The Vikings' streak of not having a 300-yard passer is at three years and climbing. In the press box Sunday, it was announced that the streak was over as Gus Frerotte reached 301 yards. No more had those words reverberated through the press box and Frerotte threw a screen pass to Adrian Peterson that resulted in a 5-yard loss. It would be Frerotte's last completion of the game and would drop him to 296 yards – continuing the streak of no 300-yard games during the Childress era with the Vikings.

  • Prior to Sunday's blocked field goal, Ryan Longwell had never missed a field goal inside of 45 yards as a Viking.

  • Allen never got his hands on Dan Orlovsky, but still ended up with a sack Sunday. Allen flushing Orlovsky from the pocket in the first half, it was clear he didn't know where the back line of the end zone was. Orlovsky took a half dozen running steps out of bounds and, because Allen was the closest Viking to him, he was credited with the sack that resulted in a safety.

  • Jim Kleinsasser had a 34-yard reception Sunday. In the first five games combined, he had two catches for 27 yards.

  • The Packers are said to be one of the teams interested in trading for tight end Tony Gonzalez, who it appears may be moved before the trade deadline. The Giants have been listed as another potential suitor.

  • Ed Hochuli continues to be the center of controversy, as the Man With the Golden Guns had another potentially game-changing moment in Sunday's Miami-Houston game. Hochuli came under fire for blowing a critical call late in the Denver-San Diego game that cost the Chargers a win. Last Monday, his crew missed a clear facemask penalty on a fumble by Reggie Bush that earned the ire of Saints fans. Sunday, it was a non-fumble call on a play ruled incomplete. After the game, Dolphins LB Joey Porter blasted Hochuli, asking for an apology. Good luck with that, Joey.

  • The Lions benched both right guard Manny Ramirez and right tackle Gosder Cherilus Sunday during the game. Veteran Andy McCollom replaced Ramirez and George Foster replaced Cherilus.


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