We're halfway through the season now, so we can safely start looking at the playoff picture in the NFC. Also, we can look at it because, for the first time in a long time, the Minnesota Vikings are actually involved in it.
If the 2015 regular season were to end today. . .a lot of season ticket holders would be angry. But beyond that, the Minnesota Vikings would be the #5 seed in the NFC playoffs and would earn themselves a trip to play the NFC East champion New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs. The other wild card weekend match-up in the NFC would see the Atlanta Falcons travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals. Green Bay would be the #2 seed, and the road to Santa Clara would run through Charlotte, as the Carolina Panthers would be the #1 seed.
Given that the Packers and the Vikings are both 6-2 through their first eight games, we need to examine the tiebreaker procedures for the National Football League. For ties between teams within the same division, they go like this:
-Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
-Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
-Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
-Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
-Strength of victory.
-Strength of schedule.
-Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
-Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
-Best net points in common games.
-Best net points in all games.
-Best net touchdowns in all games.
The Vikings and Packers have not played head-to-head, so that doesn't enter into things yet. The second tiebreaker, if you'll notice, is win-loss percentage against teams within the division, so, the fact that the Vikings have three NFC North wins and the Packers have one doesn't matter. . .they're both still batting 1.000.
That brings us to the third tiebreaker, common opponents. . .again, based on win-loss percentage. So far, the Vikings and Packers have six common opponents. Here's how they've fared against them.
|Opponent||Vikings' Result||Packers' Result|
|San Francisco 49ers||L, 20-3||W, 17-3|
|San Diego Chargers||W, 31-14||W, 27-20|
|Denver Broncos||L, 23-20||L, 29-10|
|Kansas City Chiefs||W, 16-10||W, 38-28|
|Chicago Bears||W, 23-20||W, 31-23|
|St. Louis Rams||W, 21-18||W, 24-17|
|Record||4-2 (.667)||5-1 (.833)|
So, that's why the Packers are currently listed as the NFC North leaders and the Vikings as a wild card team. That loss to the Niners, even though it feels like it happened a year ago, is the deciding factor at this point.
Yes, we're only halfway through the season. . .but in 2013 and 2014, the Vikings' season was basically over at this point. 2015 has the look and feel of something much different thus far.