Friday, July 29, 2016

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A national stage for the NFC North division title

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings are thrashing the New York Giants on NBC’s Sunday Night Football tonight, and next week, fans hope they’ll do the same to the Green Bay Packers. As announced by NBC late Sunday night, the Vikings’ Week 17 matchup with the Packers has been flexed to the NFL’s primetime slot on national television.

When the Vikings played the Packers in Week 11, they lost 13-30 at TCF Bank Stadium. This time, the Vikings will travel to Lambeau Field seeking to claim their first NFC North title since 2009. The Packers lost to the Arizona Cardinals earlier today, falling 38-8 in Phoenix. Their humiliating loss set the stage for the crucial divisional matchup next week, which will decide who finishes as the third seed in the NFC’s playoff standings.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

With some fairly large upsets taking place on Sunday, and one NFC North team giving the term “publicly owned” some new meaning, the importance of Sunday night’s matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants has been clarified in time for kickoff.

Here is what we know:

1. The NFC North Will Be Decided Next Week

The Week 17 matchup in Green Bay will be for the NFC North crown regardless of what happens during Sunday Night’s contest. That game is already primed to be one of the biggest rivalry contests in all of 2015’s NFL season, and there is no doubt that the NFC North is set to be decided in dramatic fashion.

2. If The Vikes Win Tonight Then They Clinch

There were numerous ways the Vikings could clinch a playoff berth before Sunday Night’s kickoff, but they were let down by a number of teams that included the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks. That leaves the Vikings to do the deed themselves… they must beat the Giants if they want to guarantee themselves a postseason appearance this week.

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Teddy's all smiles before tonight's game

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If the scores in the Packers and Seahawks games hold, the Vikings will need a win against the New York Giants to clinch a playoff berth this week. Fortunately for Minnesota, the matchup on paper appears to favor the Vikings, who are getting healthy at just the right time of the season. Defensive starters Linval Joseph, Anthony Barr, and Harrison Smith are all active for tonight’s game and will take the field in less than two hours.

Barr is making his return from a nagging groin injury, one he re-aggravated against the Seattle Seahawks three weeks ago. Smith appeared in that game as well, but left early in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Joseph injured his foot against the Atlanta Falcons and could have played last week, but needed one more week of rest to get to full strength. Smart, considering the Vikings are all-but-guaranteed a playoff spot with one win in their next two games.

Adrian Peterson suffered a minor ankle injury against the Chicago Bears last week, but was listed as probable on Friday and will start tonight. With the Packers losing, the Vikings will travel to Lambeau Field in Week 17 for an NFC North title game regardless of the outcome tonight. Hopefully, the inactives list remains starter-free for another week:

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Vikings Injury Report

NamePositionInjuryWed.Thurs.Fri.Status
Josh RobinsonCBConcussionDNPLPFPProbable
Adrian PetersonRBAnkle/ShoulderDNPDNPFPProbable
Rhett EllisonTEAnkleDNPDNPLPProbable
Harrison SmithSKnee/HamstringLPLPLPProbable
Anthony BarrLBKneeLPLPFPProbable
Linval JosephDTFootLPLPFPProbable
Everson GriffenDEShoulderLPLPFPProbable
Sharrif FloydDTNon Injury RelatedLP__________Probable
Charles JohnsonWRAnkleFPFPFPProbable
Jerick McKinnonRBHamstring_____LPFPProbable

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

On Sunday night, the Vikings (9-5) will attempt to win their first primetime game since Christian Ponder was their quarterback and Leslie Frazier was their head coach. Although Minnesota’s opponent for Sunday, the New York Giants, will be doing their best to make sure the Vikings primetime losing streak continues.

However, the Giants (6-8) will be without their best player on offense in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. due to a one game suspension. This will likely play a huge factor in the outcome of Sunday’s game that will already feature a hot Vikings offense going against a consistently weak New York defense.

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