Last week I looked at potential ways Minnesota could make the playoffs. To check that out click here.
This week, after narrowly beating Carolina, I am updating how things look for fans of the purple hoping the Vikings can still make the playoffs.
I said 5 weeks ago, and I keep going back to it, if they somehow beat the Packers, which they did, their next 5 weeks of the schedule was favorable. If they could go 4-1 or 5-0 against the likes of Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Carolina, and Jacksonville (next week), they’d be right there in the mix.
Well, so far so good. The Vikings gave one away to Dallas, but they also got one they probably shouldn’t have against the Panthers. So their record in SED five game stretch is 3-1, with Jacksonville looming this Sunday.
The Most important thing that happened was Minnesota got their win Sunday and improved to 5-6. Without that I probably wouldn’t be writing this.
But winning wasn’t the only good thing for Minnesota this week, it was a pretty good football Sunday if you are a Vikings fan.
Arizona lost: The Patriots did all of us a big favor and beat the Cardinals this week. That puts them at 6-5, with games left against the Rams (2), Giants, Eagles, and 49ers. Can you say 9-7 or 8-8???
Tampa Bay lost: The Chiefs, as expected, took care of business against the Bucs this week and sent Tampa Bay into their bye week with a record of 7-5. Here’s why that’s important. If the Vikings beat Jacksonville next week it puts them at 6-6. The following week they travel to, wait….for….it….
Suddenly, in that Scenario, the Bucs will be playing for their playoff lives. A loss will put both teams at 7-6, and give Minnesota the tie-breaker in the battle for that last playoff spot. It was something I dreamily called out as a possibility two weeks ago but the closer we get to week 14, the more plausible it has become. If it happens, one thing I’ll say about that potential game…Tom Brady is used to big games in pressure situations, his teammates are not. (More on that after the Vikings take care of the Jaguars this Sunday.)
Footnote: Tampa Bay beating Minnesota in that potential matchup all but secures the Bucs a playoff spot given their remaining schedule of Falcons twice and Detroit.
The Rams are now in the picture: With a somewhat surprising loss to the 49ers Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams have fallen back into risk of missing out on the playoffs. They currently sit at 7-4 and play the 6-5 Cardinals this week…a game that is essentially a win-win for the Vikings. Los Angeles winning would catapult them back into first place in the NFC West and essentially eliminate them from any further ‘missing the playoffs’ discussion. More importantly it puts the Cardinals at 6-6 and hopefully tied with a 6-6 Vikings team for that last sport.
A loss makes things much more interesting.
Losing puts both the Cardinal and Rams at 7-5. Considering the Bucs currently sit at 7-5, I say the more 7-5 teams the merrier. As S-CLUB-7 once famously said, “Bring ’em all back to you.”
Being a game back of 3 teams for one spot is obviously better than 2. The Rams then face tough games against New England, Seattle, and Arizona again, with an automatic win against the Jets thrown in there as well. It’s conceivable the Rams could finish 8-8, if they lose this week against Arizona.
Green Bay: I had floated a scenario where Minnesota could catch the Packers for the division title last week. Now in order for that to happen the Packers would have to lose one more division game against either the Bears or Lions, and finish 2-3 within that span. And The Vikings would have to win out. I think we can go ahead and dump that theory.
***By beating the Panthers this week, the Vikings playoff chances jumped to 28%, up from 15% last week***