Vikings using recent history for motivation

While the Vikings are more than two-touchdown favorites over the Lions on Sunday, they have had a few close calls in recent games against desperate Detroit. The feeling among Vikings fans this time around is very different than the last time these two teams met at the Metrodome.

After a bye week that was made all the more enjoyable by the fact they are comfortably atop the NFC North with a 7-1 record, the Vikings will return to work on Sunday when they play host to the Detroit Lions.

That will begin a stretch of three consecutive home games for Minnesota and clearly no one expects the Vikings to have any type of hiccup against the woeful Lions (1-7).

At least one odds maker has installed the Vikings as 16.5-point favorites.

"Somebody was saying, ‘Ya'll have an easy game this week,'" Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice said. "I was like, ‘Nah, it's not going to be easy at all if you look at the past three games we've played them. They've played us close. It's going to be tough for this team."

Although Rice is clearly looking for a reason to remain focused, he does have a point about at least two of the past three games between the Vikings and Lions.

Detroit became the first NFL team to go 0-16 last season, but its two losses to Minnesota were by a combined six points. That included the Vikings' 12-10 victory last October at the Metrodome in which kicker Ryan Longwell hit the winning 38-yard field goal with nine seconds left.

The Vikings trailed the Lions 10-7 at halftime of their Week 2 meeting at Ford Field this season but rallied for a convincing 27-13 victory in a game that didn't exactly end up being close.

Minnesota's last home game against Detroit was memorable for more than being close. It also marks a turning point of sorts in Brad Childress' tenure as the Vikings coach.

With his team off to a 2-3 start last season and playing poorly against the Lions, Vikings fans began a chant of "Fire Childress" even as Longwell attempted what proved to be the winning field goal.

No such chants are expected this weekend and, if anything, Childress is going to be in line to get a contract extension. That's because that victory began a run during which the Vikings have put together a 15-4 regular-season record.

In their past 16 regular-season games, the Vikings have gone 13-3. This success, coupled with the poor play of the Bears (4-4), Packers (4-4) and Lions, creates a scenario where the Vikings could clinch the NFC North sooner rather than later.

But Childress said he isn't worried about his players losing focus.

"I don't think so because among other things that you talk about, you talk about wanting to defend the NFC North and they had a taste of the playoffs last year," he said. "It's no secret that people with the best record in your conference are able to play at home as long as they can. And so it's just important that we continue to play well and play well this week. Things have a way of adding themselves up."

SERIES HISTORY: 97th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead, 64-30-2, giving Minnesota their most victories against any opponent. The Vikings have won 61 of the last 82 games in this series and are 34-12-1 all-time at home against Detroit.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17 — Games the Vikings will have won in their past 21 if they beat the Lions on Sunday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Finish. We're in good position right now. We have to keep stacking wins. For the most part, teams are remembered for what's done in November and December and not what's done in September and August." — Defensive tackle Kevin Williams on what the 7-1 Vikings need to do in the second half of the season.


Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield did limited work in practice on Wednesday after missing the two games before the Vikings' bye week because of an injury to his right foot.

Winfield has been replaced by a combination of Karl Paymah and Benny Sapp and there's a possibility that could continue for one more game. Rookie Asher Allen also has seen time in the nickel since Winfield was injured.

The Vikings aren't about to say anything negative about the Lions but the last thing they want to do is rush him back against a 1-7 team and have him get injured again.

  • QB Brett Favre was limited in practice Wednesday because of what the Vikings are listing as a hip injury. Favre actually hurt his groin the Wednesday before the Vikings played at Green Bay on Nov. 1 but he was able to play.

  • LB E.J. Henderson was limited in practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.

  • WR Bernard Berrian was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury he suffered on Oct. 25 at Pittsburgh. Berrian was able to play on Nov. 1 at Green Bay and caught a touchdown pass.

  • LB Jasper Brinkley was able to participate in all of practice Wednesday despite being listed on the injury report with a hamstring issue.

  • WR Darius Reynaud, who hasn't played in the past five games because of a hamstring injury, was able to participate fully in practice on Wednesday.

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