As we detailed a little earlier, the Minnesota Vikings are now a Wild Card team in the NFC playoff picture. However, they still largely control their own destiny as far as getting to the post-season is concerned.
Here's a look at the remainder of the Vikings' schedule, and where each of their opponents ranks in the NFC in the fully broken down NFC playoff picture.
|12||at Atlanta Falcons (6-4)||#6|
|13||vs Seattle Seahawks (5-5)||#8|
|14||at Arizona Cardinals (8-2)||#2|
|15||vs Chicago Bears (4-6)||#13|
|16||vs New York Giants (5-5)||#4|
|17||at Green Bay Packers (7-3)||#3|
For now, I'm not going to talk about the Vikings winning the NFC North because, let's face it. . .until this team shows that they can beat the Packers in anything resembling a meaningful situation, there's no point. So, I'm going to talk about this in terms of the Wild Card.
It starts this Sunday with a trip to the Georgia Dome to take on the reeling Falcons. Since getting out to a 5-0 start, the Falcons have dropped four of their last five, including three in a row. Since they share a division with the 10-0 Carolina Panthers, the Falcons' road to the post-season is going to be Wild Card only. With a victory, the Vikings can move their record to 8-3 and put themselves two games clear of the rest of the field in the Wild Card chase, as the Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (currently at #7) and the Seahawks could each be no better than 6-5 in that scenario.
Speaking of the Seahawks, the Vikings have a date with them in Week 13. Yes, the Seahawks are the defending NFC champions and all that, but they've hit a bit of a wall this season and have a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Seattle this weekend. On paper. . .yes, on paper. . .it appears to be a winnable football game.
Then, on a Thursday night, the Vikings travel to the desert to take on the Cardinals. Yeah. . .to say I don't like our chances in that one would be an understatement, to say the least. Short week, West Coast trip, in prime time against a top-level opponent? It's basically everything Vikings' fans have come to know and fear wrapped into one convenient package.
Following a bit of a modified bye week, the Vikings will get their final two home games of the season, starting with their second match-up of the year against the Bears. . .a team that they've already beaten once. (I don't care, it's still nice to be able to say that.) Then, they finish the home slate against a Giants team that, given the state of the NFC East, may be a division leader or may be a part of the Wild Card race.
Much like the game against Arizona, we won't delve too deeply into the season finale at Lambeau. . .for obvious reasons.
If the Vikings can hold serve at home the rest of the way, that would get them to ten wins on the year, which would almost certainly be good enough to get into the post-season. It would be helpful if they could get at least one of their remaining three road games as well to give themselves a bit of a cushion. If they're going to get one, it looks like the most likely candidate is this Sunday in Atlanta.
But all is not lost going forward for the Minnesota Vikings. They're still one of the NFC's top teams, and if Sunday wasn't their worst performance of this season, it's certainly in the top two. I don't think we'll see many more clunkers like that, and if the Vikings can get back to playing the way they did during their five-game winning streak, then they should be playing post-season football for the first time since 2012.