1:00 PM ET, December 24, 2011
FedEx Field, Landover, MD
Whether the quarterbacks are among those changes remains to be seen.
The Vikings visit the Redskins on Saturday, needing to win their final two games to avoid finishing with the worst record in the franchise's 51-year history.
Minnesota's worst 16-game record was 3-13 in 1984 while the 1961 Vikings went 2-11. This year's squad has shown little reason to make anyone believe it can win at least one of its final two games -- the last of which will come at home against Chicago -- much less two.
Minnesota's losing streak reached six -- its longest single-season skid since 1984 -- with a 42-20 loss to New Orleans on Sunday. The Vikings (2-12) were outgained 573-207 and had 12 first downs to the Saints' 36.
This will be the second straight season Minnesota has missed the playoffs after reaching the NFC title game in 2009.
"There's a lot at stake," linebacker Erin Henderson said of the final two games. "They're watching closely right now to see who's still fighting, who's still coming out here trying to give their best and give it their all, and look to see who they can build this team with next year and continue to move forward with."
While coaches are often the first to take the fall for a team's failures, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier reportedly has the support of the team's owners. Frazier took over after Brad Childress was fired last season.
"I'm really optimistic about the future, as difficult and as crazy as that may sound," Frazier said. "I think I have a good idea of what we need to do to not be in this situation in the future. So no, I'm not concerned about 2012 at this point."
Frazier hopes quarterback Christian Ponder is part of the team's plans going forward. Ponder, the 12th overall pick in this year's draft, took over when Donovan McNabb struggled. However, after showing promise early on, Ponder had regressed. In the last two weeks, he's 25 of 52 for 235 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
"With Christian, like so many young quarterbacks, you don't want to base your judgment on one or two games," Frazier said. "Give him a chance to have an offseason to get with our coaches in OTAs that are going to help him. I think it's a little bit too early to panic about Christian."
With Ponder struggling, Minnesota needs Adrian Peterson at full strength. Peterson, who is 68 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards for a fifth straight season, had 10 carries for 60 yards last week after missing three games with a sprained ankle.
Like the Vikings, the Redskins (5-9) also face questions about their roster as they near the end of a third straight losing season.
Washington won for the second time in 10 games, beating the New York Giants 23-10 last Sunday.
Rex Grossman completed 15 of 24 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while the defense held the Giants to a field goal until the final minute of the fourth quarter.
Grossman's two interceptions give him 18 this season -- two shy of his career high. His 71.4 passer rating ranks 29th among qualifying quarterbacks, just behind Ponder's 72.3.
However, Grossman could have better luck against the Vikings secondary, which hasn't forced an interception in the last nine games while giving up an average of 271.9 passing yards.
Grossman will be a free agent at the end of the season, but he has the support to come back from at least one of his teammates.
"We've been feeling that rhythm again once Rex got back out there, giving us that swag that he carried on the first part of the season," receiver Santana Moss said. "That's leading us to go out there and do what we do. We needed a guy like that to take advantage of those opportunities that we have."
The Vikings defeated the Redskins 17-13 in Washington last season in Frazier's first game as head coach.
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|Avg Points Allowed||28.8||22.2|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||MIN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||MIN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Minnesota leads 3-2|
|Nov 28, 2010||MIN 17, @WSH 13|
|Dec 23, 2007||MIN 21, WSH 32|
|Sep 11, 2006||MIN 19, @WSH 16|
|Jan 2, 2005||MIN 18, @WSH 21|