We're getting closer to Week 14 NFL action, folks. With just four more weeks in the regular season and the Minnesota Vikings currently out of the playoff picture, it's time to take a look at the games that Vikings' fans will need to scoreboard watch in addition to the team's own contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, let's take a look at the games that fans of the purple need to keep an eye on.
Minnesota Vikings at Jacksonville Jaguars - Vikings
Because, you know, without this one none of the rest of these matter. A loss for the Vikings today pretty much ends the competitive portion of their 2016 season.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions - Bears (12:00 PM Central, CBS)
It's the NFC North's lone inter-division matchup for this Sunday, and if the Vikings want to have any shot at catching the Lions for the NFC North division title, they need a minor miracle this afternoon in the form of a Chicago upset. In addition to winning four straight themselves, the Vikings would need Detroit to lose three of their last four in order to claim a second straight division crown.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Saints (3:25 PM Central, FOX)
Yes, we have to put faith in the team coached by the trash pile that is Sean Payton once again. Tampa Bay currently occupies the #6 spot in the NFC, so a win by New Orleans would boost the Vikings' playoff chances, at least as far as a potential wild card spot goes. Tampa would likely win any head-to-head tiebreaker with the Vikings based on conference record, so the best hope is for them to start losing.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles - Eagles (12:00 PM Central, FOX)
Since beating the Vikings in the "Sam Bradford Bowl," the Eagles have basically taken the rest of the season off. It sure would be nice of them to stop being awful long enough to beat the Redskins, though. Washington is another team that currently sits ahead of Minnesota in the Wild Card race, and that tie on their record is going to make things a bit more difficult.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants - Cowboys (7:25 PM Central, NBC)
Dallas is already in the playoffs, and it's going to be hard for the Giants to catch them for the NFC East crown. If Dallas can defeat the Giants and drop New York to 8-5, the Vikings would be just one game behind them (assuming a Minnesota win against Jacksonville, which this whole scenario is based on anyway). The Vikings would actually win a head-to-head tiebreaker against New York, so seeing them knocked back a bit would be helpful.
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams - Rams (3:25 PM Central, FOX)
Atlanta is still locked in a battle with Tampa Bay for the NFC South lead, but they currently sit at the top of that division right now. A loss for the Falcons. . .who might be without Julio Jones today. . .would be helpful for Minnesota's chances.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers - Seahawks (3:25 PM Central, FOX)
You were already cheering against the Packers anyway. Don't lie.
Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins - Dolphins (12:00 PM Central, FOX)
Arizona still has a faint pulse in the wild card race, and though the Vikings have the head-to-head tiebreaker over them, they have a tie on their record as well, which would complicate things. They need to win out to have any shot, too, and a loss today would basically eliminate them from consideration.
EDIT: I have had a couple of people point out that, because the Vikings currently own Miami's third and fourth-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, cheering for Arizona isn't such a bad idea. This game really doesn't have that much impact on the Vikings' playoff chances (hence why it's down here at the bottom of the list), so I can see that logic as well.
San Diego Chargers at Carolina Panthers - Chargers (12:00 PM Central, FOX)
Whatever longshot chances the defending NFC Champs have of climbing into the playoffs would, essentially, be extinguished with a loss today.
Those are all of the games that have any sort of impact on the playoff chances for the Minnesota Vikings on today's NFL slate. Hopefully the Vikings can get a few things to go their way as well as taking care of their own business and knocking off Jacksonville.