The Bengals will likely be looking to limit Adrian Peterson like the Cardinals did last Sunday, but those are two different schemes. Get the weekend slate of games, the keys to the game, fast facts and notes from both camps.
Green Bay Packers
(8-4) at Chicago Bears
New Orleans Saints
(12-0) at Atlanta Falcons
(2-10) at Baltimore Ravens
(8-4) at Indianapolis Colts
(5-7) at Houston Texans
New York Jets
(6-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(5-7) at New England Patriots
(6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars
(4-8) at Kansas City Chiefs
(9-3) at Minnesota Vikings
St. Louis Rams
(1-11) at Tennessee Titans
(3-9) at Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers
(9-3) at Dallas Cowboys
(8-4) at New York Giants
(8-4) at San Francisco 49ers
Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) at Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
SURFACE: Artificial turf
TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf)
KEYS TO THE GAME
Arizona effectively shut down the Vikings offense last Sunday by stuffing RB Adrian Peterson
and then combining pressure with coverage packages that kept QB Brett Favre
uncomfortable. The Bengals' defense is young and athletic, but the scheme is far more straightforward than Arizona's.
Cincinnati will attempt to control the crowd from becoming a factor by chipping away at Minnesota's stout run defense. The Vikings lost MLB E.J. Henderson
to a season-ending broken leg, while the Bengals have averaged 169 rushing yards the past three games. If Minnesota plugs up the ground game, QB Carson Palmer
could struggle without effective play-action.
FAST FACTSThe Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a victory.
The Vikings have just two victories over teams that currently have winning records.
Brett Favre's streak of pass attempts without an interception ended at 159 last Sunday. That ranks as the third-best stretch in franchise history. Favre still has only five interceptions this season, the least among quarterbacks with 250 passing attempts.
If Favre does not throw an interception against the Bengals, he will establish a team record for the most games in a single season without a pick. Favre has eight such games this season, tying him with Daunte Culpepper (2004) and Warren Moon (1995) for the franchise mark.
In the game that really put him on the map in the NFL, Favre came off the bench to relieve Don Majkowski for the Packers against Cincinnati on Sept. 20, 1992, at Lambeau Field. Favre led a pair of touchdown drives in the final eight minutes to claim a 24-23 victory, throwing his first-career touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe and then hitting Kitrick Taylor for a 35-yard touchdown with 13 seconds remaining for the winning score.
Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier held the same position with the Bengals during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
DE Jared Allen needs two sacks to tie his total from last season (14.5). That was the seventh-best single-season sack total in Vikings history. With 2.5 sacks Allen will be in the Vikings' top five for most sacks in a single season. Carl Eller's 15 sacks in 1969 and 1976 are fifth-most for a Viking in one year.
WR Percy Harvin needs 242 combined yards to surpass RB Adrian Peterson's rookie record of 2,021 yards in 2007. Harvin is currently in second place in Vikings history for combined yards as a rookie with 1,780.
Visanthe Shiancoe eclipsed the team record for the most receiving touchdowns in a single season by a tight end when he caught his ninth last Sunday against the Cardinals. Shiancoe has 16 receiving touchdowns in the past two seasons, the third-most of any player in the NFL.
Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton suffered a broken leg against the Bengals on Nov. 13, 1977, when he was sacked by Bengals defensive linemen Gary Burley. That was the only serious injury of Tarkenton's Hall of Fame career.
Chad Ochocinco said his $30,000 fine for wearing a sombrero and poncho after scoring a touchdown last week was worth it.
"You're damn right it was," he said. "I know the rules; it's going to happen. The fines, it's nine years and running now. It's nothing new."
The Bengals just need a win in one of their final four games or both the Steelers and Ravens to lose one more to clinch their second AFC North title in five years.
"It's one of the many goals we set as a team. I don't know if we're even thinking about that. I didn't really realize it until you just said it right now. I don't know if guys in our locker room realize it," Palmer said. "All we're focused on is trying to beat a good team, and going into a good team's stadium and come together as a unit, come together as a team and play in a playoff-like atmosphere with a tough situation."
With high winds and inclement weather buffeting greater Cincinnati on Wednesday, the Bengals had to take a bus 25.5 miles to Mason to practice indoors at the Wall2Wall Soccer complex. The Bengals are the NFL's northernmost franchise that doesn't have an indoor practice facility.
"It's a pain. It's a drag, but it is what it is," Palmer said. "Just sitting on the freeway for 45 minutes or an hour — we've actually sat on the busses for a couple hours one year because of the snow. It's the situation we're in."
While the University of Cincinnati will have one as part of its $10.7 million practice facility, the Bengals continue to practice outdoors in December, or in cases of extreme weather make their way up to Mason.
Even though there were some discussions about UC and the Bengals sharing a bubble, Palmer seems resigned to the fact one is not about to pop up over the Bengals' practice fields anytime soon.
"Yeah, I think everyone in the locker room understands our situation, and you have to find a way to deal with it," Palmer said.