Outside linebacker Anthony Barr, safety Harrison Smith and nose tackle Linval Joseph will return to the lineup tonight against the Giants. Running back Adrian Peterson is also active tonight despite an ankle injury.
It remains to be seen, however, how much those guys will play tonight.
With the Packers getting blown out by the Cardinals, next weekend’s season finale at Lambeau Field will be for the NFC North title regardless of whether the Vikings win tonight or not. But if the Seahawks lose, the Vikings will have to beat the Giants to clinch a playoff berth this week.
Coach Mike Zimmer said earlier this week that he will play every game to win, but he suggested that he would be cautious with his injured players tonight if the game against the Giants had no impact in the standings.
Barr is returning from a groin injury he re-aggravated in the loss to the Seahawks three weeks ago. Smith has missed three out of the past four games with a knee and hamstring injury. Joseph sat out the past three games with a toe injury. All three were listed as probable to play tonight.
Peterson suffered a minor ankle injury in last week’s win over the Bears.
With the Vikings finally back at full strength (relatively speaking), they scratched quarterback Taylor Heinicke, wide receiver Charles Johnson, cornerback Josh Robinson, outside linebacker Brandon Watts, defensive end Zach Moore, and offensive linemen Nick Easton and Jeremiah Sirles.
Inactive for the Giants are wide receiver Geremy Davis, cornerback Jayron Hosley, safety Cooper Taylor, linebacker Devon Kennard, defensive end Stansly Maponga, and offensive linemen Adam Gettis and Emmett Clearly.
Here is some pregame reading to keep you busy until the 7:30 p.m. kickoff:
— My colleague Mark Craig has a must-read story on the Wilf family, who emerged from the bleak anguish of the Holocaust with unimaginable success.
— Rookie defensive end Danielle Hunter played cricket and soccer in Jamaica before moving to Texas and picking up the game of football.
— I predict that the Vikings will take care of business by beating the Giants.