Mike Zimmer might be a longshot for the Kentucky Derby, but he's been comfortable in the saddle while guiding the Vikings.
The second-year head coach said Minnesota (8-3) is approaching a "tough stretch," a five-game span against teams jockeying for position in the NFC Playoffs.
It starts with two-time defending NFC Champion Seattle (6-5) at the University of Minnesota on Sunday.
The Vikings won 20-10 over the Falcons Sunday, holding Atlanta 15 points below what it averaged in its first 10 games of the season. That was without safety Harrison Smith for all of the game and with Andrew Sendejo suffering a knee injury during the game.
Antone Exum, Jr. made his first start in place of Smith, and Robert Blanton replaced Sendejo.
Like most NFL coaches, Zimmer doesn't love answering injury questions during the week. He turned to humor Wednesday, however, when asked, "Do you see a chance of not having Harrison Smith or Andrew Sendejo this week?"
Zimmer replied, "There's a chance if I lose a hundred pounds I could be a jockey. How would I know? I wouldn't know if guys are going to play yet or not.
"I've always wanted to be [a jockey]," Zimmer added. "Riding those Triple Crown winners would be fun."
In the meantime, the Vikings are in position to defend first place in the NFC North as the schedule nears the final quarter turn. Minnesota's remaining five opponents are 32-23 combined (winning percentage of 58.2).
Seattle has averaged 24.7 points per game this season, but has averaged 33.3 in its past three. The Seahawks would visit the Vikings in a Wild Card game if the playoff matchups were finalized today.
There's plenty more football, however, with a trip to Arizona (9-2) for Thursday Night Football a little more than a week out. It will be followed by home games against the Bears (5-6) and Giants (5-6) and Minnesota's first trip to Lambeau Field in January for a regular season game against the Packers (7-4).