The Vikings could have their regular-season finale moved to a late afternoon game, but they won't be playing in prime time on Dec. 28.
Fans who have tickets for Sunday's game with Atlanta already know about the NFL's flex scheduling system. The league took away the late-afternoon marquee matchup between the Giants and Panthers, moving it into prime time Sunday night on NBC. As a result, the Vikings-Falcons game was moved to a 3:15 p.m. local start time to maximize that audience.
Depending on the outcome of Sunday's games, the Vikings-Giants game could also be moved – but not into prime time. The NFL has yet to announce its flex game for Week 17. Typically, the league has to announce that move 12 days prior to the games. Those rules do not apply in Week 17. The league is allowed to wait until after Sunday's games to announce which game will be flexed into prime time and the Vikings and Giants could have been an ideal candidate for such a move if not for the fact that the Giants will have played three times on Sunday Night Football on NBC and have reached a mandated limit on appearances that can be made on the network.
Other candidate games could be Miami and the Jets if both teams win this week, making that game for the AFC East divisional title, a potential Chargers-Broncos matchup that could be the AFC West title if the Broncos stumble this week against Buffalo, or a potential win-or-out wild card matchup between Dallas and Philadelphia, or the Tennessee-Indianapolis game if it has significant playoff ramifications.
While it is certain that the Vikings-Giants game won't be moved into prime time, it isn't set in stone that the game will played at noon. The Eagles-Cowboys was planned to be the centerpiece for FOX's coverage for the late games in Week 17. If the league opts to take that game away, the Vikings and Giants could easily move into that spot – turning another noon start time into a 3:15 p.m. kickoff..
Vikings Brad Childress said that Artis Hicks, who missed two of the last three games with a partially torn right triceps, could require surgery to repair the injury following the season.
The Vikings returned to practice without half of its starting defensive line. Pat Williams (shoulder) and Jared Allen (knee) both missed practice, along with Hicks and WR Darius Reynaud (foot).
Gus Frerotte returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, keeping speculation open that he may be ready to return Sunday after he and Tarvaris Jackson split first-team reps at practice. However, the "smart money" remains with Jackson.
Adrian Peterson was also limited with what was described as an ankle problem. It is unclear when A.D. suffered the injury.
Brian Robison was limited after tweaking his surgically repaired knee in Sunday's win over Arizona.
Atlanta DE John Abraham and LB Keith Brooking didn't practice Wednesday, but before Vikings fans get too excited, both were just given a day off to save on wear and tear. OT Todd Weiner was the only player who missed practice due to injury – he has a knee injury that could put him in doubt for Sunday.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN is predicting Brett Favre will retire after this season. But haven't we heard that in December for the last five years?
How desperate are thing in Detroit? With two games to go before the end of what could be the first 0-16 season in NFL history, the Lions signed former Vikings WR Travis Taylor. Former Vikings safety Dwight Smith was placed on injured reserve.
The Buccaneers signed former Vikings LB Patrick Chukwurah Wednesday.