We're to the point in the season where this list has gotten very short. There aren't too many games that affect the Minnesota Vikings as it stands right now, but let's take a look at the ones that do.
Vikings fans got one of the results they might have been hoping for last night, as the Washington Redskins defeated the Philadelphia Eagles by a final score of 38-24 in Philly. That victory for the Redskins locked up the NFC East and the #4 seed in the NFC playoffs, which means that the New York Giants have nothing to play for on Sunday night. As for the rest of the schedule for Week 16? Let's take a look.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons - Go Panthers
This is the first game that could potentially lock up a playoff spot for the Vikings if they get the right result. If the Panthers can take down Atlanta, it will give the Falcons a 7-8 record, which would eliminate the three-way tie scenario that would be necessary to keep the Vikings out of the playoffs. The Panthers have won the last two games in this series by a combined score of 72-3, including a 38-0 drubbing a couple of weeks ago.
On another note, if you don't want to see the Vikings get flexed to primetime in Week 17, if the Panthers can get themselves to 15-0, you'd have to think that NBC would at least consider putting next week's game in Charlotte between the Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the prime time slot. I don't know if they actually would, but I think they'd at least consider it.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks - Go. . .well, it depends.
The Seahawks winning this game would produce the same result as the Panthers winning in the early games. . .eliminating the three-way tie scenario. However, if the Panthers win during the early games, the Vikings would be in, and then we could look at seeding scenarios. If the Vikings were to beat the Giants and lose to the Packers, they could still end up with the #5 seed (and a trip to play the Redskins) if the Seahawks lost their final two games. Seattle has to travel to Arizona in Week 17, which certainly isn't a gimme.
So, if the Panthers win in the early games, it would probably be in our best interest to cheer for the Rams. If the Falcons pull off the upset, a Seahawks win locks the Vikings into the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals - Go Cardinals
Aside from the obvious reasons, a loss for Green Bay would ensure that the Week 17 match-up at Lambeau Field would be for the NFC North title, regardless of what happens at TCF Bank Stadium tonight. Carolina can sew up home field in the NFC with a win this afternoon, but the Cardinals are still playing for a first-round bye. . .they can clinch that by beating the Packers in this game. If the Cardinals lose their last two and the Packers win out, it would put Green Bay into the #2 spot in the NFC (as they would both be 12-4 and the Packers would have the head-to-head win) and Arizona into the #3 spot. . .and a likely rematch with the Vikings rather than a week off.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings - Skol Vikings
Those are the only games that really impact the Minnesota Vikings in any meaningful way this week, folks. We'll have an Open Thread up for discussing this week's non-Vikings NFL slate approximately half an hour before the kickoff of the early games.