Vikings Playoff Scenarios

It’s been a couple days of seething, but I’m ready to get back on the horse.

Believe it or not, the goal of making the playoffs is still very much attainable.

At 4-6, the Vikings no longer have any wiggle room (although I’d sign up for 9-7 right now and let the chips fall where they may). I have said for 3-4 weeks now, after the surprising victory over the Packers in week 8, if the Vikings could go 4-1 or 5-0 during the next five game stretch they’d be very much in the mix. They’re now 2-1, with 4-1 still potentially in play.

I just wasn’t expecting the one loss to be against the Cowboys. Burns me up.

Carolina worries me this upcoming week because they’ve been extremely competitive this season. They play hard for their first year coach and have the type of team who won’t be intimidated by anyone.

But let’s spin this article positive: Our playoff journey began last night…

Scenario 1:

Bye-Bye Brady?

The Rams beat the Bucs, sending them to 7-4. How does this impact the Vikings? Good question, thanks for asking.

The Bucs play the Chiefs next week. While Brady vs Mahomes should be appointment television, I doubt it’ll be much of a game. Let’s just assume a Kansas City victory and move forward.

That sends the Bucs to 7-5 and into their bye week. Who do they play the following week? You guessed it. The Minnesota Vikings.

If the Vikings can prevail against Carolina and Jacksonville in consecutive weeks, both games they will be favored to win, that puts them at 6-6 heading into the Bucs contest in week 14.

Vikings (6-6) at Bucs (7-5) Week 14 GAME PREVIEW…I’d love to be in the position to write about that in a few weeks.

If the Vikings were to somehow win that game it would put both teams records at 7-6 and give the Vikings the tie-breaker for a potential playoff seed.

Sound far-fetched? Sure. But not impossible.

I do think the Vikings (6-6) vs Bucs (7-5) game will take place though. Their loss to the Rams last night put that process in motion.

And Tampa Bay being everyone’s trendy pick and then falling completely off the map would be one of the top NFL stories of the year.

Scenario 2:

No need to Pack your playoff bags.

The Packers are not bullet proof. They are 7-3 on the season. Only one of those wins was against a team with a winning record, and they’ve suffered losses to the Bucs, Vikings, and Colts.

The Packers still have 3 division games left (2 against Chicago, 1 against Detroit). As well as games against Philly, Carolina, and Tennessee.

None of these games are Gimme’s. Should the Packers go at least 4-2 in those games? Yes.

Is it entirely possible they go 3-3 or less? Absolutely.

I would even argue it’s more likely.

The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Devante Adams…That’s it. And half the time the latter two aren’t healthy. This is not a great team at all. It’s a squad that relies way too much on their quarterback and requires him to bail them out all the time. As evidenced in their performance against Jacksonville (24-20 victory that went down to the wire).

If Green Bay goes 3-3 (or worse) in their last 6 games, and one of the losses is to a division opponent, It’s possible they could end up in a tie for the Division with Minnesota at 10-6 or 9-7. The Vikings would then own that tie-breaker in that scenario as well.

The Packers are a team to keep an eye on. It’s not a good time for them to go on a little 2 or 3 game losing streak.

Scenario 3:

Hail Murray?

The most likely scenario might be Arizona finishing 8-8 or worse.

The Cardinals are 6-4. If they get to 9-7 or 10-6 there is a very good chance they would hold tie-breakers over Minnesota if the two teams were to finish with the same record.

But if they fall to 8-8 or below Minnesota can slide into that 7 spot and put their playoff helmets on, regardless of what any of these other teams do.

(Thanks Buffalo, for that ‘Fail Mary’ a couple weeks ago. Can’t wait till that comes back to haunt the Vikings.)

Arizona has games left against the Patriots, Giants, Eagles, 49ers, and 2 against the Rams.

The hope is Arizona’s inexperience, and the pressure they’ll feel as the playoffs loom closer and closer, will cause them to fall off.

The more likely scenario is a 3-3 record in those games to finish 9-7.

That’s right in the sweet spot. A tricky number.

I can’t imagine Minnesota going 10-6 this season. I’m way more comfortable with Arizona going 8-8, which would require a 2-4 finish from the Cardinals.

It’s possible, but Arizona might just be a little too good this year. (Again, thanks Buffalo. You couldn’t hold on for one more play?)

Scenario 4:

Covid rears its ugly head.

Let’s be clear, I’m not rooting for Covid cases to escalate. The fact is the NFL has discussed expanding the playoffs by adding a team in both leagues this year if Covid cases cause too many disruptions.

If that happens Minnesota would just need to finish 8-8 to get in.

Important side notes:

I’m writing off the Bears, as anyone who has watched them play this year should, even though their record is currently 5-5. I don’t view them as a playoff threat at all. The 49ers (4-6) have been hurt all year and I don’t envision them jumping back into the race with their starting quarterback shelved for the rest of season.

Food for thought:

***It all starts next week against Carolina. If they lose that game you can print this article out and rip it up. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Teddy ended Minnesota’s playoff hopes this season?***

***Depending on what you read, the Vikings current playoff chances are anywhere from 8.2 to 20.1 percent after Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys.***