The Vikings will be featured in prime time television during three of four December games. The NFL moved the Vikings-Cardinals game to Sunday night on Dec. 6 to further increase the team's late-season national exposure.
The NFL has spoken and it would appear that fans want to see more of the Vikings in prime time and, as a league that is adept at marketing its stars, the NFL is going to give the fans what they want – which apparently is a heavy dose of the Vikings.
The league announced Tuesday that the Vikings-Cardinals game Dec. 6 will be moved from a 3:15 Central time start to the Sunday night game – bumping out the original matchup of New England at Miami. That can't be overestimated, since the Patriots have been one of the marquee franchises in the league for the better part of the last decade and the whole Wildcat scenario was an easy storyline to go with – the Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat last year against the Patriots.
The jockeying of the schedule has been underway for some time. The Vikings-Packers game in Green Bay Nov. 1 was moved from a noon start time locally to a 3:15 start time in order to maximize the number of viewers – which was a wise move since it was the highest rated program since the Academy Awards. This Sunday's game with Chicago has also been moved from noon to 3:15 to draw a bigger audience.
The third move of a Vikings game to prime time can only add to the mania surrounding the Vikings, because it will mark the third time in a four-week span that the Vikings will be playing in prime time. In addition to the Sunday night game in Week 13 against Arizona, the Vikings and Panthers will play on Sunday night in Week 15 (Dec. 20) and the Bears on Monday night in Week 16 (Dec. 28).
Whether NFL fans like the Vikings or hate them, they better get used to seeing them under the bright lights because the players are going to spend most of December playing in front of national audiences – what many hope is merely a precursor to more nationally televised games in January.
At the NFL's official website, senior analyst Pat Kirwan makes the case that, despite still having two undefeated teams in the NFL, the Vikings might be the No. 1 team in the power rankings because of their offensive and defensive balance and their relative health.
The Vikings resume practice today. It will be interesting to see what level of practice Antoine Winfield has this week. He has been sidelined since Oct. 18, when he injured his foot against the Ravens.
The potential exists that a tie-breaker between the Vikings and Saints could have to get deep. The Vikings' only loss of the season came at Pittsburgh, which doesn't count in tie-breaker procedures because they are from the rival conference. The Vikings are still perfect against the division and the NFC. If the Saints lose to New England on Monday night, all the tie-breakers to date will be even – since neither team will have lost in the conference – and potentially the tie-breakers could come down to something as arcane as total points and scoring margin, which might encourage one or the other to put the boots to a beaten opponent like a college team trying to improve its BSC stock.
Owner Zygi Wilf, along with players Sidney Rice and Visanthe Shiancoe, were in Austin Tuesday as part of the team's outstate "You Made the Team" community promotion. Wilf took the opportunity to take a couple of shots at politicians who have made it their mission to oppose public funding for a new stadium.
Former Viking Steve Hauschka, who was recently released by Baltimore, was one of four kickers worked out by the Falcons Tuesday. Atlanta kicker Jason Elam has had more than his share of field goal problems this year.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.