JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -The subplots might be more interesting than the game.
Mike Tice facing his former team for the first time. Troy Williamson wanting to fight his former coach. Jared Allen trying to maintain his aggressive style despite another fine. Kevin Williams and Pat Williams awaiting word on possible suspensions.
Throw in Adrian Peterson's romp through the record books (he needs 59 yards rushing to become the 14th in NFL history to gain 2,500 yards in his first two seasons) and Mike Peterson's benching saga (he might return to the starting lineup), and the Minnesota Vikings (5-5) and Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6) could be one of the more intriguing matchups of the week Sunday.
It would be even better if both teams had something to play for, but that's not the case.
two games behind the wild-card leaders, they realize their 3-6 conference record and tough remaining schedule make getting back in the hunt doubtful at best.
``Right now, this (stinks),'' running back Fred Taylor said. ``I want to go out there and finish strong, play hard and try to get the record over .500 by season's end and see what happens. I hate to end on a loser's note.''
Even though Minnesota is just a game better than Jacksonville, the team has a much more positive outlook, and for good reason. The Vikings are tied with Green Bay and Chicago atop the NFC North, and have three of their final five games at home, where they are 4-1 this season.
``If (the Jaguars) play the role of spoilers, then we obviously have to take the role that we can't be spoiled,'' Minnesota's Allen said.
Even the spoiler's role doesn't compare to all the subplots.
Tice was fired by Minnesota after the 2005 season, following a 2-5 start, a ticket-scalping scandal and the infamous Love Boat fiasco. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio hired his close friend a short time later, giving him a chance to rebuild his reputation and revamp his resume.
from your mistakes. If you don't, you either don't care or you're a (dummy).''
Tice spent the last three years as an offensive assistant in Jacksonville, working mostly with tight ends and the offensive line.
He's kept in touch with several former players - he was in Minnesota for 14 years as a player and coach - and is looking forward to the reunion Sunday.
Williamson wants to see his former Minnesota mates, too. Just not Vikings coach Brad Childress.
Although Williamson won't play because of a lingering groin issue, he hopes to ``get work in'' by fighting Childress at the 50-yard line.
It's unlikely the two will even cross paths, but Williamson made it clear he was still bitter over the way Childress handled his grandmother's death last season. Childress docked the former first-round pick a game check for missing an entire week following the funeral, but later rescinded the penalty after public outcry and a meeting with team leaders.
Williamson said facing his former team will be just another game - unless Childress wants to go at it.
``If I can duke it out with coach Childress, that would be a different story,'' Williamson said.
Allen might have the best shot at unloading on someone Sunday. The defensive end was fined $25,000 for several recent late hits, but avoided suspension.
on Tuesday to defend himself against the league's crackdown on late hits. Allen has been fined $80,000 this season for what the league has deemed unacceptable contact during games.
``Nothing that happened was intentional,'' Allen said. ``Most of those hits I was falling to the ground and I was trying to pull up. I'm not going to change the way I play. I'm going to play hard from snap to whistle and keep playing football.''
Minnesota's star defensive tackles, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, followed Allen to New York two days later to discuss their positive test for a banned diuretic.
They missed practice Thursday and face four-game suspensions if their appeal is denied. They likely won't hear anything until next week.
So they'll be in the lineup Sunday - playing a much bigger role than Tice, Williamson, Childress or any fine handed to Allen.
``They're dominant,'' Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. ``They're both good football players, so they clog up the middle real well and they also generate some rush.''

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