Packers help Vikings in playoff positioning

The Vikings may have been rooting for the Packers on Sunday. Green Bay's win over the Cowboys helped give the Vikings a two-game lead over Dallas for second in the NFC race.

A funny thing happened Sunday following the Vikings win over Detroit. In some circles, Vikings fans that hate the Packers found themselves actually cheering for Green Bay.

With the NFC North title all but wrapped up. The Vikings have a three-game lead over the Packers with seven to play and have a season sweep head-to-head, a four-game lead over Chicago and officially eliminated Detroit – the focus now has become trying to lock down home-field advantage for the playoffs.

While it may seem much to premature, the fact is that every win and loss in the conference has become doubly important for those teams making a playoff push – just ask Bill Belichick, whose Sunday night coaching gaffe all but eliminated the possibility of the Patriots and Colts meeting outdoors in January in the AFC playoffs. The Vikings may have been facing a similar situation with Dallas, which headed into Green Bay with a 6-2 record and on a roll.

The Cowboys' to the Packers was important in one critical respect. It gives the Vikings another conference tie-breaker in their favor in their pursuit of a first-round playoff bye. When it comes to tie-breakers outside of the division, conference record is the first tie-breaker, followed by record against common opponents. The Cowboys loss to the Packers was a demerit mark in both categories, solidifying the positions of both the Vikings and the undefeated Saints.

As hard as it may have been to fathom, the Vikings and their fans were right to cheer for the Packers Sunday. They may have done the Vikings a big favor by sending the Cowboys back to Texas with another loss on their record.

MONDAY NOTES

  • As the dust settled on Week 10 in the NFL, the Saints and Vikings remain entrenched atop the NFC with records of 9-0 and 8-1, respectively. The Cowboys and Cardinals are each sitting atop their divisions at 6-3 and four teams – Philadelphia, New York, Green Bay and Atlanta – are all at 5-4 in the battle for the two wild card spots.

  • The Vikings and Saints are the only undefeated teams in terms of conference record. Both teams improved to 6-0 vs. the NFC Sunday.

  • There is growing optimism that, after being out for nearly a month, Antoine Winfield will be ready to return next week.

  • Brett Favre has always been known as a gunslinger, which has never helped out his passer rating. But, as we close the books on Week 10 tonight, Favre will be the highest-rated passer in the league with a rating of 107.5.

  • Want to win a bar bet? Who is the only team with a better division record than the Vikings' mark of 4-0 vs. the NFC North? The Cincinnati Bengals, who are 5-0 against the AFC North and have already locked down season sweeps against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

  • Matthew Stafford was hit 16 times yesterday by the Vikings defense. While sacks are all that most fans look at in terms of pressuring opposing quarterbacks, the rookie likely is relieved to be done with the Vikings on his 2009 schedule.


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