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Updated: November 9th, 2012 2:15pm
Jared Allen: Loss to Detroit would put Vikings 'far behind the 8-ball'

Jared Allen: Loss to Detroit would put Vikings 'far behind the 8-ball'

by Tom Pelissero
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- There's no doubt in Jared Allen's mind about the gravity of Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

"Huge. Huge," the Minnesota Vikings' right end said on Friday. "I'd lie to you if I said it was just another game. It's absolutely not another game."

After a 4-1 start, the Vikings have three of their last four games, including discouraging performances in consecutive defeats against Tampa Bay and Seattle.

Losing to Detroit (4-4) at home would drop the Vikings back to .500 and into last place in the NFC North Division entering their bye week.

"We've got to play and we've got to play well," Allen said. "It's at home and it's in our division. We've got to come out and we've got to put up. That's the sense of urgency I feel around here."

After the bye, the Vikings play three more division games -- at Chicago (7-1), at Green Bay (6-3) and then home against Chicago again -- that will decide the fate of the long-shot playoff hopes that seemed reachable after their strong start.

If the season ended today, the Vikings would be knotted with Seattle (5-4) for the second NFC wild card, with the Seahawks winning the tiebreaker based on last week's victory.

"I'm sure you guys have seen some of the records in the NFC," halfback Adrian Peterson said. "Everything is tight right now. But especially when you're playing a divisional game, those count as double. So, it's important, very important to us, especially going into the bye."

Detroit, Tampa Bay (4-4) and Arizona (4-5) are next in the conference standings. The only NFC team with fewer than three wins is Carolina (2-6).

After the divisional stretch, the Vikings' schedule wraps at St. Louis (3-5), at Houston (7-1) and then home against the Packers in a finale.

Not that those games will matter if the Vikings don't right there ship beginning on Sunday.

"It is definitely one of these games, a pivotal game in the season," Allen said, "to where you lose this one, you put yourself far behind the eight-ball with six games left and you're going into a bye on a three-game skid.

"It's an absolute -- I don't to say 'must win,' but it's one we've got to have."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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In this story: Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson