Coughlin could elect to rest his starters for two weeks – the Giants will have a bye in the wild-card round of the playoffs – but Vikings coach Brad Childress said that isn't in Coughlin's nature. He expects to see the Giants' best effort.
"That's how Tom is wired. You saw him play all those guys last year against New England. He has a couple of weeks off. He's not going to give them three weeks off. You want to get into the playoffs, not unlike us, you want to be an ascending group," Childress said. "You want to win and play your best so that when you do take that little time off, you leave with a good taste in your mouth."
It would appear Childress' assessment of Coughlin is correct. In New York, Coughlin was asked if he would rest even healthy players in a game in which he has "nothing to gain," a phrasing with which Coughlin took issue.
"I disagree with the idea that you have nothing to gain. There is a lot to be gained," Coughlin said. "If you believe, as we do, that you have to be playing your best football at this time of the year, you certainly do have some things to build on and particularly when you are not going to play for a couple of weeks.
"I am taking all that into consideration and I am not going to answer any further questions about that stuff because, quite frankly, I haven't had a chance to sit and talk with the various medical people or the coordinators or anyone in terms of our approach to this game. That is going to happen a little bit later (Monday)."
The Giants have a few players dealing with injuries. Starting cornerback Aaron Ross suffered a concussion in Sunday night's game against the Panthers.
"Aaron Ross was to be discharged from the hospital later (Monday) afternoon," Coughlin said. "He still has some blurriness so he got dinged pretty good. They are going to do all the psychological tests that the player has to pass before he can be cleared to practice so we will have to see."
Coughlin also said in a conference call with New York reporters on Monday that running back Brandon Jacobs (knee), DT Fred Robbins (shoulder) and WR Domenik Hixon (foot and ankle) were sore but expected to be ready to play against the Vikings. Defensive end Justin Tuck was also recovering from the flu, but Coughlin said he wasn't vomiting anymore on Monday.
The Vikings were planning to play their starters on Sunday no matter the outcome of the Packers-Bears game Monday, but now that the Bears won in overtime the Vikings need to go into Sunday's game against the Giants expecting to win to secure their playoff spot. Minnesota would get the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs if the Bears lose at Houston or if the Vikings beat the Giants at the Metrodome. If neither of those happen, the Bears would win the NFC North title and the Vikings would be out of the playoffs.
The Vikings would prefer to seal the playoff spot by winning their own regular-season finale and have a positive feeling heading into the playoffs.
"You need to make sure your momentum is going that way and you need to execute and you need to be able to play the game," Childress said.
The Vikings had a season-low three penalties against the Falcons, but for the second time in three games, they started out with two penalties on the opponents' opening drive.
Two weeks ago in Detroit, the Lions' opening drive that ended in a field goal was benefitted by two offside penalties on Benny Sapp. The Falcons game started similarly.
This time it was Kevin Williams coming across too early twice in Atlanta's opening drive, giving the Falcons once first down and setting up a third-and-1 on another. It helped them extend a drive 12 plays and start the game with a touchdown.
The Falcons were one of several teams this season to start out the game going no-huddle against the Vikings.
They scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game, a 12-play series.
"I think it is very important to start fast. When we start fast, we are very successful," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "I believe we are 10-1 when we jump out to a lead. I think that is very important. Also, when we are leading at halftime, we are very successful. It was very important even though it was going to be a loud environment. We felt like we wanted to jump into that right away. I thought Matt and the offensive players did an outstanding job executing it in a very hostile environment. One of the loudest environments in the league."
The Vikings have actually outscored their opponents 94-78 in the first quarter of games this year and given up a touchdown on their opponents' opening drive only three times – at New Orleans, at Chicago and against Atlanta.