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Vikings Division Goal Remains in Reach in Week 16

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Just two weeks remain of the 2015 regular season, but only one matters to Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.

He'll plan to keep it that way for the Vikings (9-5) as they prepare to host the New York Giants (6-8) on Sunday Night Football at 7:30 p.m. (CT) at the University of Minnesota.

Although there are three scenarios in which the Vikings can clinch their first playoff berth since 2012, Minnesota still has a shot to win the NFC North.

Asked Monday if it feels good to be so close to a playoff berth, Zimmer said, "I don't know, I don't feel too good about it yet. Our goal really isn't to get into the playoffs. Our goal is to win the division first."

The Vikings can reach the postseason via one of three ways: they defeat or tie the Giants; or if Atlanta loses or ties against Carolina, or if Seattle defeats or ties St. Louis. The Vikings also could claim the division crown if they win out, regardless of what Green Bay does at Arizona.

Zimmer said he and the team expressed a goal of winning the division at the start of the year, but after that, the focus shifted to the opponents in front of them each week.

"Really, all we've talked about is this week, winning each week," Zimmer said. "Focusing on the task at hand this week, and 'Here's what we have to do to win and stack them up at the end.' I've said that many times, we'll count them up at the end and see where we're at and now we're close enough to, I think, have that realization that we have an opportunity to do that."

Injury updates: It's early in the week, but Zimmer said that DT Linval Joseph (foot), LB Anthony Barr (groin/hand) and S Harrison Smith (knee/hamstring) continue to improve from injuries.

"I think there's a good possibility [of returning]," Zimmer said. "I mean, they're getting really close, we'll just see."

Zimmer added that Joseph was close to returning against the Bears Sunday, but the Vikings were worried about him getting re-injured before complete healing had occurred.

Zimmer added that Adrian Peterson had a look at an ankle injury he suffered late in the second half against Chicago.

"He will be alright," Zimmer said. "[Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman] said he's like Rubber Man.

Shout out to outside: Sunday's game is scheduled to be the last home game in the elements, as the Vikings will move into U.S. Bank Stadium next season. Zimmer's tenure at the Vikings helm overlapped with last year's debut on the University of Minnesota campus, and he opened his press conference Monday with words of appreciation for the time there.

"I want to give a little shout-out to the University of Minnesota," Zimmer said. "I know this could be our last home game there, but they've done a great job for these two years – it's gone by fast actually. Our fans have been great, hopefully they'll be great again Sunday night and go out the right way outdoors, so it'll be fun."

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