EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Help might be on the way Sunday, but the Minnesota Vikings want no part of it.
Their bottom line is simple: Beat the Chicago Bears, secure a first-round bye.
Should the Vikings lose, they would spend the rest of the afternoon watching three late-starting games. A Carolina loss at Atlanta, New Orleans win at Tampa Bay and Rams win against the 49ers would also lock Minnesota in as the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
It's fine to have those scenarios in their back pocket, but earning this bye on their own holds high importance.
"We don't want to get any help from anyone," Kyle Rudolph said. "The last thing you want to do is limp into the playoffs coming off of a loss. We want to go out and play well and end this season the right way."
It's the reason why talk of resting players in the season finale hasn't been prevalent this week. The way these players see it, if they take care of business against Chicago, they'll get time to recuperate while other teams are playing wild-card games.
"I think that kind of sums up the importance of this week," Rudolph said. "You go out and win this week, we get to sit back and watch everyone play next week while we essentially win again and someone has to come here in the divisional round."
Rudolph has been battling an ankle injury suffered in Week 14. A temporary reprieve in sight is certainly a motivating factor.
"I've pushed through the last coupled weeks and I'll continue to push through and then, essentially, I can kick my feet up for a week," he said.
Other players would certainly benefit from the added rest.
Rookie center Pat Elflein missed two days of practice this week with a lingering shoulder injury. Minnesota signed long snapper Jeff Overbaugh after Kevin McDermott dislocated his left shoulder in Green Bay. McDermott is eyeing a return in the postseason, which would be bolstered if the Vikings don't have to play next Saturday or Sunday.
"They've told me he has a chance," special teams coach Mike Preifer said. "Other than that, we're going to go business as usual with a new snapper and go as long as we need to go with Jeff and he'll do a great job for us. When Kevin is ready, he'll be ready."
The Vikings also lost defensive tackle Shamar Stephen to an ankle injury in Green Bay, which has kept him out of practice this week.
Elflein did not play in the Vikings' third loss of the season at Carolina. He was able to return against Cincinnati and Green Bay, but his status is in question after being sidelined this week.
Nick Easton filled in at center against the Panthers, but after he suffered a season-ending ankle fracture last week, that responsibility would be passed off to right guard Joe Berger should Elflein not be able to go. That would prompt Mike Remmers to slide over to right guard while Rashod Hill steps in at right tackle. Jeremiah Sirles, who filled in for Easton in Weeks 5-7, at Carolina and again in Green Bay, is expected to stay at left guard.
All the shifting around on the offensive line conjures memories of what the Vikings had to do last season. In 2016, Minnesota used eight different combinations of offensive linemen when combating a slew of injuries. The Vikings might see their seventh different rotation in Week 17.
And don't forget, left tackle Riley Reiff is only three games removed from injuring his ankle. His first game back was last Saturday.
Case Keenum has been working on center-quarterback exchanges with Berger this week. The difference for Keenum in perfecting their timing on the snap count comes down to taking the discussions he's primarily had with Elflein and having them with Berger and others.
"Joe's done a great job, Pat does a great job," Keenum said. "They're on the same page, they're in the same meetings. We all do the protection meetings together with all those guys in there."
Should the Vikings beat Chicago, they'll spend next week doing initial preparations for the two teams they could face on Jan. 13 or 14. The week won't operate like a bye during the regular season, but coach Mike Zimmer says he's planning to build in some off time before the Vikings go full steam ahead into the divisional round.
"I'll give them some time off," Zimmer said. "We make deals sometimes. You win, I take care of you. You take care of me, I take care of you."
Added Rudolph: "If you want an entire week off when we have a chance to win two games and get to the Super Bowl, then why would you really be here? I have a feeling that this bye week will be different than a bye week in the middle of the year where guys can't wait to get away. You do have to rest your body and rest your mind, but I think there will be an eagerness and a sense of urgency that like, 'Hey let's get back to work, we have two games and we could be playing a Super Bowl in our own stadium.'"