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Ed Barkowitz: Decimated Vikings caught in tangled Webb

IF YOU WERE one of the degenerates (like me) following the play-by-play of the Vikings-Giants game on the Internet on Monday night, perhaps you were taken aback after Tarvaris Jackson was injured.

IF YOU WERE one of the degenerates (like me) following the play-by-play of the Vikings-Giants game on the Internet on Monday night, perhaps you were taken aback after Tarvaris Jackson was injured.

Up scrolled the line: J. Webb now in at QB.

J. Webb? Who's J. Webb? Jack Webb, the dude from "Dragnet"?

Actually, it was Joe Webb, a rookie sixth-round pick whose only NFL experience had been one game as a kick returner.

After going 2-for-5 for 8 yards and playing quarterback like a kick returner, you'd think Spud Webb would have a better chance at being behind center again for the Vikings. You'd be wrong.

All indications are that the decimated boys in purple have no choice but to turn to Joe Webb for Monday's game against Chicago. This, of course, is wonderful news . . . if you own the Bears defense.

Jackson was put on injured reserve yesterday, and Brett Favre (shoulder), hasn't been ruled out, but it really looks as if he is about to run his streak of consecutive games not played to two. The other option is Patrick Ramsey, who signed yesterday, but hasn't started a game since 2005.

"Joe Webb has the most familiarity with our offense," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told Minneapolis radio station KFAN this week. "He's been with us the entire season . . . The next guy [Ramsey] would have to be ready to go in if something were to happen with Joe."

Webb, of Alabama-Birmingham, was the player of the year in Conference USA last season. He took part in the Senior Bowl as a wide receiver. He has a criminal justice degree and was a National Honor Society member in high school.

Maybe these nuggets will soften the blow when Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice has two catches for 19 yards and running back Adrian Peterson runs for 37 yards against the Bears' 10-man front.

Did we mention it's supposed to be snowy and about 10 degrees Monday night at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium? Good luck if you have to play any Vikings.

Position watch

Quarterbacks: The Packers should have an idea tomorrow whether Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn will start Sunday at New England. If Rodgers sits, drop Greg Jennings down to a No. 2 wide receiver and Donald Driver to a No. 3. Life is not fair if Joe Webb plays this week and Aaron Rodgers does not.

Running back: Rams third-down back Kenneth Darby, who has vultured a pair of potential Steven Jackson touchdowns this season, has a cracked rib and has been limited in practice. Obviously, this enhances Jackson's value a little bit more Sunday against the stingy Chiefs, who last week gave up a rushing touchdown to a running back for the first time in seven games . . . Cleveland's Peyton Hillis hasn't scored a touchdown in the last two games for the first time all season. He needs to stop fumbling.

Wide receiver: The long-running joke on our message board is for scorned owners to abbreviate Derrick Mason's name simply as DFM. You can guess what the "F" stands for. Throughout his entire 14-year career, the Ravens receiver has been a monster in December, and came up huge again Monday night with two touchdowns to knock another favored team out of our playoffs. Mason has nearly as many career touchdowns in December (26) as he does in November (16) and October (15) combined . . . Who's rolling the dice and playing Austin Collie this week against the Jaguars? Will Collie be the guy who has played only one quarter in the last 6 weeks or the guy who had 160-plus receiving yards two of the first three games? I also have Pierre Garcon, so I'm sitting Collie. Would love to hear from those who have him . . . STATS Inc. has Cincinnati's Terrell Owens leading the league with 11 drops. Must be the coaches' fault. Joking aside, T.O. did have 222 yards receiving in the September meeting against Cleveland, his opponent Sunday.

Contest result

* Last week, we asked readers to guess the number of rushing yards the Eagles would get against the Cowboys. Paul Mills predicted 169, which came closest to the Birds' total of 171. Santa will make an early trip to Mills' Bensalem home and drop off a Daily News Fantasy Football T-shirt. A reminder that three more shirts will be given out to random participants of the year-end fantasy ballot above. *

Ed Barkowitz, who barely survived Matt Schaub's fourth-quarter performance against the Ravens last week, has been writing about fantasy football in the

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