The Vikings' worst performance of the season came on national television, but they will have a chance at redemption with two prime-time games in the next two weeks. They will also have an opportunity to improve their road record this season.
Coming off a 30-10 victory over the Bengals on Sunday, the Vikings will finish up the road portion of their schedule with games at Carolina and Chicago over the next two weeks.
Both will be in prime time — a Sunday night meeting with the Panthers and a Monday night game at Soldier Field — and will provide the Vikings a chance to get some redemption for what happened earlier this month at Arizona.
Playing at University of Phoenix Stadium on Dec. 6, the Vikings were outplayed in just about every facet of the game in a 30-17 loss to the Cardinals.
That's the only real blemish on an otherwise extremely successful season in which the Vikings have gone 11-2 and clinched a playoff berth. The Vikings can wrap up their second consecutive NFC North title with either a victory against the Panthers or a Green Bay loss at Pittsburgh earlier Sunday.
But even clinching the division before they play won't mean the Vikings are going to become lackadaisical given their last prime-time performance.
"Since Arizona is freshest in our memory and it was a Sunday night game, I'm sure we'll go back and revisit that," coach Brad Childress said. "It's kind of burned in our memory, and we know that's kind of an important thing ... although we've always known it's an important thing to be able to go on the road and win."
The Vikings are 4-2 on the road this season, but three of those victories came in their first five games and were against Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis. Since Oct. 25, the Vikings have lost in Pittsburgh and Arizona and beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field.
If the Vikings are going to reach the Super Bowl, they are likely going to have to win at least one game on the road because the Saints (13-0) are on track to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe
is confident if the Vikings execute their game plan that they will be fine home or away.
"The home team always has the advantage," Shiancoe said. "They have the 12th man and it's their field, the elements, etc. They are used to the elements. We're going to have to adjust to that, but it all depends on the way we play. As long as we play our game, Vikings football, I feel like whoever is playing against us is going to have to really match up to our intensity. We want to set the tone. We don't want to be chasing or falling behind. We want to be the ones to really set the tempo."
QB Brett Favre completed 17 of 30 passes for 192 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 30-10 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday. Favre's passing yards were his fewest since he threw for 155 in a Week 2 victory at Detroit. Favre has now thrown three picks in the past two games after having three in the first 11. Still, he has 27 touchdowns and six interceptions and remains among the league leaders in completion percentage (68.1) and passer rating (106.0).
QB Tarvaris Jackson entered a game for the seventh time this season in relief of Brett Favre. It was the second consecutive time that he came in with the Vikings holding a substantial lead and did not throw a pass. Jackson has been the No. 2 quarterback behind Favre the entire season, leaving Sage Rosenfels as the emergency QB.
RB Adrian Peterson rebounded from the second-worst rushing day of his career — he gained 19 yards on 13 carries at Arizona — to run for 97 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. He also had three receptions for 40 yards, including a 28-yarder that led to a second-quarter touchdown. Peterson has 36 receptions for 319 yards this season, smashing the career high for catches that he set last year when he hauled in 21 passes.
RB Chester Taylor gained 25 yards on five rushing attempts and caught two passes for 32 yards against Cincinnati. Taylor caught a 26-yard pass and then had a 17-yard run in the third quarter to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson. Taylor's 39 receptions rank fifth on the Vikings. Despite his often limited workload, he continues to be an extremely valuable backup to Peterson.
TE Visanthe Shiancoe has only four receptions in the past two games after having 13 catches in the previous two. Nonetheless, Shiancoe is still fourth on the Vikings with 42 catches for 408 yards and a team-leading nine touchdowns. His touchdown total is a single-season record for a Vikings tight end.
WR Bernard Berrian tied for the team lead with four receptions for 43 yards Sunday, but his yardage totals continue to be far less than expected. This is likely due in large part to the fact that Berrian has battled hamstring injuries in both legs at different points this season. Berrian is third on the Vikings with 47 receptions for 485 yards and four touchdowns but is averaging 10.3 yards per catch. Last season, Berrian proved to be a big-play threat on a consistent basis, averaging an NFL-leading 20.1 yards per catch.
WR Percy Harvin, the front-runner for NFL offensive rookie of the year honors, missed his first game of the season because of migraine headaches that have slowed him at different points this year. Harvin has suffered from migraines since he was 10, but the frequency of these headaches has to be a concern for the Vikings. The standout kick returner had missed practice time in the days leading up to a game on at least three occasions but had been able to play on game day. But last week he took part in no practices and sat out against the Bengals. Childress told Sirius NFL Radio on Tuesday that he expects Harvin at practice on Wednesday. There is no doubting Harvin's toughness considering he played through migraines and a painful shoulder injury at different points this year.
WR Sidney Rice tied Bernard Berrian for the team lead with four receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals. Rice continues to lead the Vikings with 67 receptions for 1,075 yards and five touchdowns and very well could be on his way to earning the first Pro Bowl berth of his three-year career.
SS Jamarca Sanford started in place of the injured Tyrell Johnson (concussion) and finished second on the Vikings with six tackles against the Bengals. Sanford also contributed two tackles on special teams. Childress said he was impressed by Sanford but that Johnson would remain the starter when he's ready to return.