Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy and Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson are close friends and former Andy Reid assistants who still talk to each other frequently.
So, with the Eagles’ playoff hopes hinging on the Bears beating the Vikings on Sunday, Pederson was asked Monday if he’d be calling old buddy Nagy with some tips on how to beat the Vikings.
The Eagles routed the Vikings in last season’s NFC title game but lost to them at home this season.
“Maybe I’ve done that, we’ll have to see,” Pederson told reporters with a laugh. “Maybe I’ve already done that this morning.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer just shrugged when asked Wednesday for his reaction.
“I don’t care who he called,” Zimmer said. “I really don’t. I didn’t hear that. But I don’t care who Doug calls or who anybody calls.”
Nagy, whose Bears beat the Vikings 25-20 at Soldier Field on Nov. 18, might not go overboard trying to help Pederson. Needing a Rams loss to San Francisco to move up to the second seed, Nagy hinted to reporters Monday that he’ll pull starters if the Rams get a big lead on the 49ers in a game that has the same starting time.
“We’ll have a plan in terms of being smart,” Nagy said.
However, on Wednesday, Nagy told the Twin Cities media that, “We’re going to play our guys. We’re playing to win. That’s our mentality and we’re not treating this any different than any other week.”
Six sit out
Six key Vikings players did not practice Wednesday, casting their status for Sunday’s game in doubt.
Out were cornerback Xavier Rhodes (groin), guard Mike Remmers (lower back), punt returner Marcus Sherels (foot), linebacker Eric Kendricks (hamstring), fullback C.J. Ham (elbow) and defensive tackle Linval Joseph (knee).
NFC sixth seeds 14-14
Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, the NFC’s sixth seeds are 14-14 in first-round games while the NFC’s fifth seeds are 9-19.
The Vikings (8-6-1) currently hold the sixth seed but need to beat the Bears at home or have the Eagles lose or tie at Washington to clinch a playoff berth.
Seattle has to lose at home to Arizona for the Vikings, with a win, to move up to the fifth seed.
As a sixth seed, the Vikings are 2-2. As a third seed playing a sixth seed, they’re 0-4.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ran a season-high 10 times for 43 yards against the Vikings last month.
“I probably didn’t know he was as fast as he was,” Zimmer said. “He can run. He had some really good runs on us, and we had to adjust during the course of the ballgame.”
Zimmer said the Vikings’ pass rush will have to be disciplined when the teams meet again on Sunday.
“And that goes not just for the defensive line,” he said, “but the linebackers in their drops … so that you have a few more eyes on him.”
Murray wins award
Running back Latavius Murray won the 18th annual Korey Stringer Good Guy Award for his interaction with the local media.
“I know you guys have a job to do,” Murray said in accepting the award Wednesday. “I think it’s important that players are consistent in helping you do that. I was raised a certain way. I was raised to be respectful.”
The award was voted on by 12 members of the media who cover the team daily. Each member listed his or her top three “good guys.”
Murray received 29 points and eight first-place votes. Stephen Weatherly finished second with 15 points and one first-place vote. Sheldon Richardson was third with 13 points and two first-place votes. Adam Thielen, last year’s winner, received the other first-place vote.
Fourteen runs not enough
Last month in Chicago, Vikings running backs had 17 yards on 13 carries. The team, including Kirk Cousins’ one carry, had 22 total yards rushing.
“This team is going to be hard to run against,” Zimmer said. “But you can’t run it 14 times.”