EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer isn't concerned about his team letting its guard down.
Fresh off Minnesota's 11th win of the season and the clinching of a division title, Zimmer gave Twin Cities media members three reasons why he believes the Vikings won't lose focus over the final two regular-season games.
"Our players kind of understand from two weeks [at Carolina] that this thing happens really fast if something goes haywire; that's number one," Zimmer said. "Number two, our guys are pretty smart, focused guys, and I think they understand what's at stake.
"And number three, we're still playing for seeding," Zimmer continued. "If possible, we would like to play every game in U.S. Bank Stadium. I know we're going to get one, but we're kind of greedy."
While the Vikings understand that a first-round bye is now a possibility, they are maintaining the same one-step-at-a-time mentality that Zimmer has preached all season.
Zimmer emphasized that he's not fixated on getting the bye but rather intent on beating his next opponent.
"We're focused on Green Bay and trying to figure out how we can win another game. It's a great rivalry, and they're an excellent football team and a great organization, and we'll have to play really good to win," Zimmer said. "So you know, if we don't win this game and the next game, it really doesn't matter about all that stuff."
Here are four other topics Zimmer addressed during his podium session Monday afternoon.
1. Prepping for the Packers passers
After missing eight-plus weeks with a broken collarbone, Packers quarterback returned to the huddle Sunday in hopes of leading Green Bay to a win over Carolina. A victory would have kept the Packers in the playoff hunt, but after falling to the Panthers, a win on *Monday Night Football *by the Falcons will eliminate the Packers from the postseason.
If the playoffs are no longer up for grabs, there have been questions raised as to whether or not Rodgers will play Saturday night against the Vikings.
But Zimmer isn't concerned about it.
"It's not up to me. We just play whoever comes out, it doesn't matter to me who plays," Zimmer said. "We'll prepare for both, and we'll assume that Rodgers is going to play. It's not different than anything other week where you don't know what's going on."
Zimmer acknowledged that the offense could look a little different based on which quarterback plays between Rodgers and Brett Hundley.
"I mean, they're still doing a lot of the same things," Zimmer said. "I've only watched three games on them before I came down here. Some of the stuff is still the same, and then there are some other things.
Added Zimmer: "I mean, Aaron Rodgers is an unbelievable great player, right? If somebody goes in he's hard to replace, but they have a lot of similarities."
2. Staying aware of the weather
As is typical for a Lambeau Field matchup in December, the weather could have an impact on Saturday's game.
Weather.com on Monday afternoon forecasted the low for Saturday night's temperature in Green Bay to be 1 degree Fahrenheit. Zimmer said the frigid temps could dictate a bigger emphasis on the run game but that the passing game is usually more affected by wind than by cold.
"Field conditions, a lot of those things will come into factor. You can throw the ball in the cold. It's just sometimes the wind and crosswinds affect it a little bit more," Zimmer said. "It's like everything else, you go in a game and you prepare for these things."
The head coach considers harsh weather no differently than needing to make adjustments based on an offensive or defensive look he gets from an opposing team.
"As you get there, you might have to change some of the combination routes you're running because of the wind," Zimmer added. "You might have to change some of the defenses you're playing because of the conditions that you're playing in. It's a part of adjusting during the game."
3. Barr's success standing out
When asked specifically about a chance in Anthony Barr this season, Zimmer said that the linebacker is having a great year.
Barr through 13 games has recorded 84 tackles (60 solo), 1.0 sack, six passes defensed and eight tackles for loss. And beyond the stat sheet, he's made a big-picture difference for Minnesota's defense.
"He's playing really good," Zimmer said. "He's been very active. He's on top of things, he makes a lot of checks for the defense and things going on. On the field, he's been physical, very active in really all phases of the game."
4. Step up for special teams
Zimmer emphasized last month that Minnesota's special teams units could improve.
The unit's performance over the past few games has been the step forward Zimmer was looking for.
"All the areas are doing much better, I think, now," Zimmer said. "We could still probably be better on kickoff return, but we've been careful about the ones we take out.
"Other than that, I think they've done a lot better," he added. "I think Marcus [Sherels] has been a lot more aggressive. That's added to field position. I think our coverage units have been better."
Zimmer also highlighted the Vikings punting game. Ryan Quigley punted five times against the Bengals and on three occasions pinned them inside their own 20.