The Vikings’ 23-10 loss to the Packers on Monday night locks Minnesota into the No. 6 seed. Which makes Sunday’s season finale against the Bears meaningless. Which gives the Vikings a pre-playoff bye for their key players, if they choose to use it.
“I haven’t really decided yet,” coach Mike Zimmer told reporters on Tuesday regarding whether players will be rested. “I don’t know the answer to that yet.”
It’s a tough call. On one hand, it’s good to avoid injury and to keep the team’s most important players fresh. On the other hand, it would be good to wash some of the stink off the starting lineup after last night’s clunker, which Zimmer continues to refuse to blame on only quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“I think it was a combination of things,” Zimmer said Tuesday. “I thought Green Bay did a good job in coverage. They played a lot of coverage last night. They changed up some of their rushes and so they were kind of getting in his lap. The combination of that and not running the ball, I think it was really a whole bunch of different areas. It wasn’t just Kirk. We didn’t block him up front very well and they did a good job in coverage.”
Running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, both of whom missed the Week 16 game with injury, surely won’t play. Linebacker Eric Kendricks, who suffered a quad injury for which an MRI will be performed, likewise won’t be used. Beyond that, Zimmer will decide what to do about Sunday’s game.
He continues to be pragmatic about last night’s loss, which gave the NFC North to the Packers.
“Winning the division is great and everything because you get a home playoff game, but we weren’t good enough to do that so we’ll just keep trying to do something better,” Zimmer said.
They’ll need to play a lot better to do something better, and the road begins in Green Bay or Seattle or New Orleans. The reward for a victory would then be a trip to face the NFC’s No. 1 seed.