This post is for 2008!!!
Follow the link to see the 2009 NFL playoff picture and Week 17 scenarios for the AFC and NFC.
The National Football League handed down suspensions today that will last the remainder of the season to those who were caught using a banned diuretic. Included in those suspended are Kevin Williams and Pat Williams who make up the heart of the Vikings 2nd ranked run defense and one of the best pass rush duos in the league.
Throughout the season, the Pat and Kevin Williams made up one of the strongest units on the Vikings squad. The two completely dominated the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball, and allowed the Vikings to take advantage of their high octane running game behind Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. They controlled the clock, they stopped the run, and they pressured the opposing quarterback. Without a doubt, these two players were a major key to the Vikings success this season.
Now, all may be lost as the Williamses will have to sit out the remainder of the season which includes a tough slate of very good offenses to close out the season (and the Lions, which are up on Sunday). Aside from the Lions game, though, the Vikings will face the Cardinals, Falcons and Giants in a three game slate that now could allow either the Packers or Bears to jump back into the lead of the division because without Pat Williams and Kevin Williams doing what they do best, all three games could be losses.
How will they win if Kurt Warner has all the time in the world to pick apart their shaky secondary? Who will step up and stop Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood? How can they prevent the Giants from completely dominating them to close out the season? The Vikings already had the toughest remaining schedule of all three contenders for the NFC North, but without Pat and Kevin Williams, the degree of difficulty might very well have doubled. In looking at the rest of the divisionâ€™s remaining games, it looks like a door closed on the Vikings, and opened for someone else.
In the final three games, the Packers will play Houston, Jacksonville, Chicago, and Detroit while the Bears will have Jacksonville, New Orleans, Green Bay and Houston. If the Vikings start losing, the Monday night showdown between the Packers and Bears could very well decide who will win the NFC Norris this season.
The NFC North division just got a whole lot more interesting.