The sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC is one of the final lose ends that needs to be tied up this weekend, with the Vikings currently controlling that spot (and thus entering the playoffs with a win Sunday against the Bears, or a loss in Philadelphia) and the reigning Super Bowl champs, The Philadelphia Eagles, desperately hoping for yet another December miracle. Beyond the storylines that exist (with the Vikings and Bears being NFC North Rivals) and the Vikings getting shellacked by the Eagles in the NFC Championship, last season there lies another, more insidious connection, one that was asked about by reporters today and that drew a comment from the coaches of the above-mentioned teams.
The Bears are coached by Matt Nagy, who had formerly worked with Eagles coach Doug Pederson in both Philadelphia and Kansas City. The game between the Vikings and Bears was flexed to 3:25 this Sunday, which means that the Bears might have “nothing” to play for as their game begins (assuming the Los Angeles Rams win their match-up). That idea being that the Bears will rest their starters against the Vikings in general but especially on offense where the Bears would be going up an increasingly stout Vikings defense (that has shown that it can bring sacks in bunches this season) to avoid any catastrophic injuries before the playoffs start. It’s that idea that must’ve been the impetus for what we will dub “The Call”, as a reporter in Philly asked Pederson today whether or not he’d called his former colleague to pressure him to play his starters and beat the Vikings (which’d give the Eagles a playoff berth), regardless of the outcome in the Rams game.
When asked that question (if he had thought about calling), Pederson replied that he might, then laughed and said that he had perhaps already done just that this morning. While he could just be playing coy with the media, the laugh said it all as it was pretty clear he was being genuine (although you might have to be an evil genius to actually get the Eagles to win their first Super Bowl).
That news reached TCO Performance Center in Eagan during Zimmer’s typical Wednesday presser, to which he commented:
“I don’t care who he called, I didn’t hear that, but I don’t care who Doug calls or who anyone calls.”
Typical/Vintage Zimmer. While he says he doesn’t care, rest assured that this is the perfect bulletin board material that he will use to hype up a team that you’d assume was already dialed to 11 in terms of hype for Sunday’s match-up. The budding divisional rival is working with the team that embarrassed (or some say exposed) you in the playoffs last year? The team that stopped you from reaching your goal?
Yeah. I’d say the Vikings will have something to say about all of this. We’ll find out just what Sunday around 3:30.