It's been three years since the Vikings have been relevant this far into the season, so its understandable that us fans would get excited about the playoffs and the "what-if's". This year is much different than the 2009 campaign, however. There is no future hall of fame quarterback, no Sidney Rice, and there was virtually zero expectations for this team coming into the season. Christian Ponder, in my opinion (I say this because I see so many comments about Joe Webb being the starter) is the main reason the Vikings are 6-4, which I view very much a positive. They could be 8-2 if he plays better in a couple games (TB, SEA), but 4-6 is also very possible he doesn't play as well as he did in a couple games (SF, JAX). If the Vikings make the playoffs, it will be Christian Ponder, not AP, that takes them there. Here is a look at the remaining schedule and playoff situations for the Vikings.
Wild Card: As it stands now, the Vikings are out of the playoffs. But they are by no means out of the race. At 6-4, they are currently 8th in the NFC, two spots from the final wild card spot held by Seattle (6-4). Tampa Bay (6-4) is currently in 7th. The two losses to Seattle and Tampa Bay are proving to already play a huge impact on the playoffs. If Minnesota had handled Tampa Bay at home, the Vikings would actually either be in 3rd or 5th in the playoff picture at 7-3 (I'm not sure who wins the tiebreak between GB and MIN at this point, help me out here). Other wild card contenders in the NFC are New Orleans (5-5) and Dallas (5-5). Here are the remaining schedules for the Vikings' wild card opponents:
Seattle: @ Miami, @ Chicago, vs Arizona, @Buffalo, vs San Francisco, vs St. Louis
Tampa Bay: vs Atlanta, @ Denver, vs Philadelphia, @ New Orleans, vs. St Louis, @ Atlanta
New Orleans: vs San Francisco, @ Atlanta, @ NY Giants, vs Tampa Bay, @ Dallas, vs Carolina
Dallas: vs Washington, vs Philadelphia, @ Cincinnati, vs Pittsburgh, vs New Orleans, @ Washington
In my opinion, Seattle's schedule is the easiest, especially with their final two games at home. @ Miami and @ Buffalo are also very winnable road games. New Orleans also scares me. Nobody should ever count out a team with Drew Brees as their quarterback.
NFC North Division: With Chicago's ugly, ugly loss Monday night, the division is now shaping up to be a close race to the end. I don't see the Bears going anywhere without Cutler (yes, I am predicting a Vikings win on Sunday if Cutler doesn't play). The next three games for Minnesota will decide the fate of the season. Winning 2 out of the next 3 would be a huge success in my opinion. I feel like, with the Lions losing and also hosting Houston on Thanksgiving, they are virtually done. Here are the schedules for Green Bay and Chicago:
Green Bay: @ NY Giants, vs Detroit, vs Minnesota, @ Chicago, vs Tennessee, @ Minnesota
Chicago: vs Minnesota, vs Seattle, @ Minnesota, vs Green Bay, @ Arizona, @ Detroit
This division will end up very different if Jay Cutler is unable to play another game or two, as we saw possible last year when Chicago collapsed. The Bears are a completely different team without Cutler, and not in a good way at all. I see Green Bay losing @ Chicago, assuming Cutler is back by then. It is also possible they lose against the struggling Giants if they can put a game together and the Vikings could steal one as well.
Week 12 Prediction: As far as I know, it is still very much in the air if Cutler will play this week. However, they are fully aware that this is a huge game in the division and if Cutler is cleared, there is no doubt he will be on the field. I am going to be optimistic with this pick and go with the Vikings 20-17. I hope you enjoyed reading this and, most importantly, SKOL VIKINGS!