The Vikings can secure a wild card spot in the playoffs with a win Sunday. Meanwhile, Peterson, who has 1,898 yards rushing, needs 208 yards Sunday to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, a mark that has stood since 1984. That might seem like a lofty landmark, but Peterson has rushed for 210 yards or more twice in two of the last four games, including 210 against the Packers on Dec. 2.
"Our focus isn't on getting the record. It's kind of a byproduct and it would be awesome to get. If he rushes for 208 yards or more, that's a good sign that the offense is clicking, so we'd love that," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "But I think if you asked Adrian the same question, I think he'd rather make it to the playoffs than get that goal."
Peterson rushed for only 86 yards against a Houston Texans defense that appeared bent on stopping him Sunday, maybe at the expense of other areas of their defense, as they often stacked eight or more players near the line of scrimmage and assigned their safeties to rush from the edges.
With a 23-6 win in hand in the fourth quarter and Peterson dealing with abdominal soreness, the Vikings decided to let other running backs handle the final six handoffs – Toby Gerhart got five rushes after the Vikings pulled Peterson and seldom-used Matt Asiata got one carry.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said winning Sunday is the top priority.
"I think the biggest consideration has to be winning this game, finding a way to get a win. If the record comes along with the win, that would be great, but not at the expense of winning the game," Frazier said. "We've got to approach this as whatever it takes to get a win. Adrian wants it that way, too. He'd love to have the record, but he's the ultimate team guy. He'd love to get a win and I hope he gets the record, but even more so I want us to win this game."
If the Vikings can beat Green Bay for the first time since 2009, they will get into the playoffs with a 10-6 record. If not, at 9-7 they will have to rely on three other NFC teams to lose to get in.
Considering that 37 of the 53 players on the roster weren't around in 2009 – the last time the Vikings made the postseason – the playoffs are the dangling carrot for many of the young players.
"For us, our No. 1 goal is to get into the playoffs. A lot of people talked about at the beginning of the year it's six more wins than we had last year and three times as many as we had last year. Yeah, we're proud of that fact, but for us we want to make the playoffs," Ponder said. "If we don't make the playoffs, we'll be extremely disappointed and we'll feel like this year has been a waste, especially the opportunities that we had in our hand all year."
The Vikings signed TE Chase Ford to the practice squad to fill the spot vacated when they promoted DE George Johnson to the active roster on Saturday.
The Vikings released two players – OL Mark Asper and TE Allen Reisner – to make room for Johnson and CB Chris Cook, who was brought off injured reserve/designated to return.
The Jacksonville Jaguars claimed Asper and Reisner for their 53-man roster, but they weren't along in their interest.
Jacksonville had priority on the waiver wire on other clubs, but the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all put in waiver claims on Asper. The Detroit Lions and Bucs also put in claims on Reisner.
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CB Antoine Winfield, who fractured a bone his right hand against the Houston Texans, should play Sunday without too many limitations.
He hurt his hand in the first quarter of Sunday's game when he was making a tackle on RB Arian Foster.
"I think his knee may have hit the top of my hand. I thought maybe it was just a bruise," said Winfield, who played the rest of the game.
Winfield was wearing a cast on his hand Wednesday and said he won't have that much protection on Sunday, likely settling for a glove and extra padding.
"Right now, yeah, kind of hard to grip. I really won't see it as a problem. I played this game with it and it didn't come up," he said.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.