We're bringing this to you a little bit earlier than we usually do, because the games that we're interested in are going to start earlier than they usually do.
In Week 15 of NFL action, the Minnesota Vikings can actually lock up a playoff spot, but they need a few things to happen. Yes, I realize that the "easiest scenario" for the Vikings is to win their next two games and not worry about anyone else, but in the event that you'd like them to lock up their post-season spot as early as possible, let's take a look at what games fans of the purple should be keeping an eye on this week. We'll do this in chronological order this time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams: Go Rams
Yes, cheering for Gregg Williams, the gutless pile of garbage that he is, will nauseate some folks. (Then again, seriously, we were looking for both New Orleans and Dallas to win last week, so this can't be as bad.) Any scenario where the Vikings clinch a playoff berth this week has to start with a Tampa Bay loss. If the Buccaneers win on Thursday night, the Vikings absolutely can not clinch a playoff berth in Week 15. This could also be the final game that the Rams play in St. Louis. . .whether that's a motivating factor or not remains to be seen. Also, be forewarned that this is the last of the NFL's "Color Rush" games for this season. . .adjust your television sets accordingly.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings: Go Vikings
Because duh, that's why.
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants: Go Panthers
Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins: Go Bills
Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars: Go Jaguars
Okay, let me get into the deeper part of the scenario that the Vikings would need, because these three games are all connected to it.
In order for the Vikings to clinch a playoff berth in Week 15, they need a victory over Chicago, a loss by Tampa Bay, and one of the following combinations:
-A Redskins loss + a Falcons loss
-A Giants loss + a Falcons loss
-A Redskins loss + a Seahawks loss
-A Giants loss + a Seahawks loss
You'll notice that I didn't include the Seahawks game on here. There are two reasons for that. Reason number one is that the Seahawks are playing at home, and since we're going in chronological order and the game is a late kickoff, it isn't part of the above group. Reason number two is that the Seahawks are hosting the Cleveland Browns this weekend.
Yeah, I don't see that upset happening either.
The Giants, who the Vikings are now playing in primetime in Week 16, have a very tall order against a Panthers team that is still playing for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Falcons, who are pretty much legally deceased anyway, are playing a Jaguars team that just dropped 51 points on their last opponent and are still very much alive in the AFC South. The game between the Bills and the Redskins might be a little harder to call, but if the Panthers and the Jaguars both win, the Vikings won't have to worry about the results of that game.
Even if the Vikings don't get everything they need to clinch a playoff spot this weekend, these games going the way we'd like them to would be nice. It might even deflate the Giants a little bit going into the Sunday Night Football contest in Week 16.
Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks: Go Browns
I mean, it's totally not happening, but that doesn't mean you can't hope against hope or anything.
Green Bay Packers at Oakland Raiders: Go Raiders
Because why on earth are you cheering for Green Bay anyway? Seriously?
Those are pretty much all of the games that are relevant to our favorite football team this week, ladies and gentlemen. Hopefully things will go the way we want them to and we can breathe a little easier over the final two weeks of the season.