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Of Pat Williams and Potential First-Round Byes

Well, by now I'm sure we've all heard the news that Phat Pat Williams, the best run stopped in the National Football League, is going to be on the shelf for the next 2-4 weeks with a broken scapula.

Surely this news caused Roger Goodell to change his free-time activity for today from kicking puppies to dancing some form of jig.

So this is obviously a bit of a buzzkill after the butt-whomping that the Vikings laid upon the Arizona Cardinals yesterday afternoon, particularly with two outstanding rush defenses coming to the Metrodome over the next two weeks in the Atlanta Falcons and New York Football Giants.  It's kind of a shame after the way he and Kevin Williams have stood up to the idiocy of Roger Goodell that Phat Pat's regular season needs to end this way. . .and I emphasize regular season, because there's a chance he could be back for the post-season. . .but that's just the way that football goes sometimes, I guess.

And make no mistake, this injury doesn't mean that the big man is going to be dropping his appeal of his suspension, and there's no reason that he should.  He's in the process of making Roger Goodell and his Napoleon complex look foolish.

Now, as has already been pointed out in the FanPosts, Phat Pat might. . .just might. . .get a chance to rest that injury for an extra week before he has to play a post-season game for the Beloved Purple.  That's because if the Vikings beat the Falcons this coming Sunday, not only will they wrap up the NFC North regardless of the Monday Night game between Chicago and Team Irrelevant, but they'll automatically be playing for a first-round bye in Week 17.  Allow me to explain.

The featured NFC matchup for this week. . .aside from the Falcons/Vikings match-up. . .is the battle that will be going on at Giants Stadium this weekend between the aforementioned Giants and the Carolina Panthers.  Both of those teams own records of 11-3, two games better than the Vikings' current mark of 9-5.  A win by Minnesota on Sunday will raise their mark to 10-5, and one of the teams in the Giants/Panthers matchup will fall to 11-4.  The winner will go to 12-3 and be locked into the #1 seed in the NFC.

Should the Panthers be victorious in that matchup, the game between the Vikings and Giants in Week 17 will be for the NFC's #2 seed.  If the Vikings won that game, they and the Giants would both be 11-5, but Minnesota would get the higher seeding due to that head-to-head victory.

If the Giants win next week, it would get a little more complicated.  In that scenario, not only would the Vikings have to beat New York in the season finale. . .and they might be resting players, given that they'd be locked into home field throughout the NFC playoffs. . .but we'd also have to hope that the New Orleans Saints would be able to muster up a victory over the Panthers that afternoon, too.  In that scenario, both the Vikings and Panthers would be 11-5, and Minnesota's 20-10 victory back in Week 3 would give them the advantage.

Oh, and a victory over the Giants would give the Vikings a victory over the three other NFC division champions this season.  So that would be a nice little thing to hang our collective hats on, too.

Getting that first-round bye would be even more huge in light of the injury to big #94.  Can the Vikings pull it off?  Well, they have to wrap up the North, first, but hopefully that part of the equation will be solved by supper time next Sunday.