Did everyone enjoy watching mustard defeat ketchup on Thursday Night Football?
For those that didn't watch, the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 31-23 on Thursday night. This is good news for Minnesota Vikings fans because a Bucs win would have meant the Vikings couldn't clinch a postseason berth even if they beat Chicago on Sunday. But since Tampa Bay lost, the path to how the Vikings can make it in this week has been simplified.
However, it still isn't as simple as winning at TCF on Sunday. Three conditions need to be met in order for Minnesota to clinch a playoff spot:
- Win Sunday over the Bears; AND
- A loss by the Giants OR the Redskins; AND
- A loss by the Seahawks OR the Falcons.
Before you ask (as many people already have on Twitter tonight): yes, it is possible for the 9-7 Falcons to make the playoffs over the 9-7 Vikings even though Minnesota won head-to-head. How, you ask? If there is a tie between three or more teams for a Wild Card spot, head-to-head isn't the first tiebreaker unless one team has won or lost against all the others in the tie. Conference win percentage is the next thing to come into play, and then...well if you really want to know you can read the full NFL tie-breaking procedures
for yourself. Just trust me on this--I have spent an inordinate amount of time on ESPN's Playoff Machine
and it's possible.
If the Vikings can take care of business and beat Chicago you have to feel pretty good about the chances of the other conditions being met. Seattle losing at home to Cleveland is a pipe dream, but the Falcons are free falling and the two NFC East teams...well, they're NFC East teams. First things first though--the Vikings need a victory this weekend before anything else comes into play.