Vikings pushing for playoff positioning

The Vikings continue to put separation between themselves and their NFC North opponents and are on pace for a first-round playoff bye with their best start in over a decade.

Already having swept the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings will look to stay perfect against the NFC North on Sunday as they play host to the Chicago Bears.

It will be the Vikings' third home game in a row and will give them an opportunity to improve on a 9-1 record that is second to only New Orleans (10-0) in the NFC.

The Vikings are coming off a 35-9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks — a performance that was by far their most complete of the season.

Quarterback Brett Favre continues to play at an MVP-like level, throwing for four touchdown passes against the Seahawks. Favre completed 88 percent of his passes (22 of 25), setting a team and personal mark.

"We didn't hurt ourselves, but I think there is so much left for us to achieve," Favre said. "I think that goes without saying. We obviously have put ourselves in a very good position, as we have every week. There's still a lot of football left to play. Up to this point our guys have not lost the focus that has gotten us where we are. I don't think we have the guys who would do that. You can be beat by anyone on any given week. We're well aware of that and I still don't think we've (played) our best football."

Obviously, the Vikings are playing very good football. This is the first time they have started a season 9-1 since the 1998 team went 15-1 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to Atlanta.

This is the sixth time in franchise history the Vikings have had a record this good this deep into the season. While Favre has played a big part in the success, it actually started last season when the Vikings won their first NFC North title.

In fact, since the start of the 2008 season, the Vikings' 19-7 record is second only to the Indianapolis Colts' 22-4 mark.

That type of play is why coach Brad Childress received a contract extension through the 2013 season last week. Childress' teams have gone from 6-10 to 8-8 to 10-6 in his first three seasons, and clearly this will be his most successful campaign.

"It's a real special team," wide receiver Sidney Rice said. "I think we're still putting all the pieces together. We're doing a real good job with it."

LINEUP WATCH: Pro Bowl left cornerback Antoine Winfield was expected to return against Seattle after missing the past three-plus games because of a foot injury. However, Winfield failed to make enough progress for the Vikings to bring him back. Clearly the team is being very cautious with him, but he is expected to return Sunday against Chicago. Benny Sapp and Karl Paymah continued to play in Winfield's place, with Asher Allen also helping out in the nickel.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 — Rushing yards the Vikings defense surrendered to Seattle. That is the second-lowest total the Vikings have given up in franchise history. They held the Detroit Lions to minus-3 yards rushing on Dec. 10, 2006.

NOTES

  • CB Asher Allen recorded his first career interception and only the Vikings' seventh pick of the season Sunday against Seattle. Linebacker Chad Greenway and cornerback Cedric Griffin lead the Vikings with two interceptions apiece.

  • DT Fred Evans was inactive Sunday for only the second time this season. Evans was a surprise inactive in the season opener, but this one did not come as a big surprise because he had been sick last week.

  • QB Brett Favre established an NFL record with the 22nd four-touchdown game of his career. Dan Marino had 21 four-touchdown games from 1989-99. Favre is 19-3 in those 22 games.

  • RB Adrian Peterson topped the 1,000-yard mark at one point Sunday but dropped to 999 yards for the season after losing 3 yards on his final series. Peterson has exceeded 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons.

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe tied a career-high with his seventh receiving touchdown of the season against Seattle. Joe Senser holds the team mark for touchdown catches in a season by a tight end with eight.


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