Vikings have simple task in Sunday's contestRegional Sports
-- It's pretty simple for the upstart Minnesota Vikings -- win and they're in the NFL playoffs. Coming off a franchise-worst 3-13 season, being in that kind of a position is a win in itself for the Vikings but getting to the next level isn't going to be easy.
MINNEAPOLIS - It's pretty simple for the upstart Minnesota Vikings -- win and they're in the NFL playoffs. Coming off a franchise-worst 3-13 season, being in that kind of a position is a win in itself for the Vikings but getting to the next level isn't going to be easy.
Minnesota faces long-time rival Green Bay, the reigning NFC North champions, and a team which has won 12 consecutive games in division competition, including a 23-14 triumph over the Vikings in Week 13 at Lambeau Field despite a 210-yard rushing performance by MVP candidate Adrian Peterson. This one takes place in Minneapolis at Mall of America Field, however, and the Vikings, who are looking to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2009, are 6-1 as the host this season.
Minnesota has already matched the largest jump in franchise history from one year to the next after matching its leap from 1997-98 when the team also increased its win total by six games, going from nine to 15 wins.The Vikings handled AFC powerhouse Houston, 23-6, last Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive. Peterson, who was named to his fifth Pro Bowl on Wednesday, carried the ball 25 times for 86 yards against the Texans for Minnesota, which has won three in a row overall and currently holds the final wild card spot in the NFC. Peterson has now rushed for a career-high 1,898 yards on the season, although his string of eight consecutive games with 100 yards rushing came to an end in south Texas. A.P. now needs 102 yards to reach 2,000 on the season and 208 to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing mark of 2,105 set in 1984.
Randall Cobb is listed as questionable for Sunday’s Green Bay Packers’ regular season finale at Minnesota. Cobb -- a second-year receiver and kick returner – practiced on a limited basis today. Coach Mike McCarthy says he’ll see how Cobb’s doing on Sunday before deciding whether to play him. Corner Davon House is listed as doubtful with shoulder-and-hip injuries. McCarthy said House is not recovering as fast as the coaches had hoped. Only two Packers are listed as “out” for the Vikings’ game, and neither are a surprise. They’re defensive back Charles Woodson and running back James Starks. McCarthy said receiver Jordy Nelson had a good week of practice, after missing three games with a bad hamstring. The coach said there’s no reason not to think that Nelson won’t play, and he’s listed as probable against the Vikings. Guard Josh Sitton practiced fully today after getting a concussion – and he’s listed as probable for Sunday. Kicker Mason Crosby caught the flu bug this week, but he’s also probable – along with centers Evan Dietrich-Smith and Jeff Saturday, running back Alex Green, and defensive ends C.J. Wilson and Jerel Worthy.
Ryan Grant insists he’s not bitter that the Green Bay Packers didn’t want him until now. But the veteran running back says he’s making up for lost time, as he tries to prove his value to the team once again. The Packers refused to re-sign Grant after last year – and he only played one game with Washington before being out of football for most of this season. But after veteran Cedric Benson and a couple younger players got hurt, the Packers turned to Grant in early December to try and bring at least some balance to Aaron Rodgers’ passing game. And with Grant’s help, the Packers have used a committee approach to surpass the 100-yard mark in team rushing in each of the last four weeks. Last Sunday, he ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns in Green Bay’s 55-7 blowout of Tennessee. As the Packers enter the playoffs, coach Mike McCarthy says he’d like for one player to carry much of the load at running back – and in recent years, that man has been Grant, who’s the fifth-leading rusher in Packers’ history. Rodgers says Grant has always run the ball well during the winter months – and he quarterback says he’s happy Grant’s here. The Packers will close out their regular season at Minnesota on Sunday, with a first-round playoff bye at stake.
Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy says nobody needs to apologize, after center Jeff Saturday made the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Fans, players, and coaches chose the 14-year veteran as a backup in Honolulu – and the word came less than a week after the Packers benched Saturday in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith. McCarthy said the team is proud of all three players who made the Pro Bowl roster – Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews being the others. As for Saturday, McCarthy said quote, “You don’t ever apologize for anything in this league. Everything is earned. He was voted in.” Meanwhile, Packers’ defensive tackle B.J. Raji a fairer system might be to let coaches and pro scouts do the Pro Bowl voting – and leave the players and fans out of it. Raji missed the NFC squad after playing in Hawaii a year ago, but he said he’s not bitter about it. Raji said coaches and scouts would provide a fairer selection system. Raji said individual players don’t count that much, because each team sends in a single ballot. He said a player’s reputation or national television exposure are often the deciding factors. And he said some players will vote for the worst player on a list, just to get their teammates a better shot of getting in.