EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the Vikings are trying to navigate their way to the playoffs, which could happen before they take the field Sunday.
The Vikings (9-5) host the New York Giants (6-8) on Sunday Night Football. A win by Minnesota would secure the Vikings first playoff berth since 2012, but they could also be in with an Atlanta loss or tie, or a Seattle win or tie before taking the field.
The Vikings also are in contention with the Packers (10-4) for the NFC North crown. Green Bay visits Arizona (12-2) and finishes the 2015 regular season by hosting Minnesota on Jan. 3, 2016.
Zimmer was asked how having a playoff spot secured might affect decisions in the final two games of the regular season. He said he thinks it will be important to try to continue momentum from playing well at Arizona and against Chicago down the stretch.
"I do want to be smart and that would be more so with guys that are hurt," Zimmer said. "Our mindset is to go win both these games and play our guys, game plan, prepare and do everything we do because I think it's important — we've played good the last two weeks, and I think it's important to continue to build as we continue to go forward, and if we do happen to get in the playoffs, I think it's important that we continue to push to where we want to get."
Vikings fans will have all day to watch games while they wait, but Zimmer is likely to keep players from watching the scoreboard too much. He won't want to do anything to the competitive fire he has and Vikings have shown this season.
"I've talked about it and thought about it," Zimmer said. "I know if we did something different other than play our best football, I'm too much of a competitor in each game that I wouldn't want to fight."
Here are a few more thoughts from the podium:
Zimmer on Adrian Peterson being the only Viking selected for the 2016 Pro Bowl:
"We probably had some [other] guys deserving, and every year it's kind of like that. But I like this football team, and I like the guys we have, and to me they're all Pro Bowlers. To me. So that's really all that I care about."
Zimmer on Teddy Bridgewater's level-headedness to media/fan commentary (negative or positive):
"I think that's part of his nature. As I've said this before about Ted, he's more about wins than personal achievements. And I think when the team wins we all want to make sure to play good, but he's really conscious about winning as a team. That's kind of been his M.O. in college, high school and here now."
Zimmer on coaching staff relying on Teddy Bridgewater's input on the passing game:
**"We try to rely on Teddy; sometimes Teddy is not as vocal as he should be, because he's a pleaser and he wants to do whatever. So part of that is some of the things I talk to him about: making sure that [he understands] that it's okay to say, 'I don't really like that play' sometimes, or, 'I really like this combination of things.' He's done better with it this year, but he's still not to that point yet. He can do a lot better with it; he can be a lot more vocal. I've expressed to him to be more vocal with it, but you know how he is; he's pretty nice."
"He's throwing the ball really well in practice right now. I don't know what the case would be last year, I hope that this year it's because we have a chance to be where we're at, and maybe that excites him. Maybe last year was learning, getting better, getting better – things like that.