With just three games left in the 2016 NFL regular season, and the Minnesota Vikings are still in a fight for their playoff lives. They still need to win out and get help in order to get into the postseason field, as they’d be on the outside looking in if the season ended today. So, where does our favorite football team have to look in order to get that help?
That’s what we’re here for, folks. . .there are a number of games this weekend that could impact the Vikings’ postseason chances, so let’s take a look at them and which outcomes would be most beneficial to the purple and gold.
Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings (Noon Central, CBS) - Vikings
Because, again, without a victory here, none of the rest of these results matter. The Vikings would still mathematically be alive with a loss to the Colts on Sunday, but realistically they’d be done for. So, we need our favorite team to keep General Luck and his troops under wraps on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (7:30 PM Central, NBC) - Cowboys
Dallas is in, and nothing is going to change that. Tampa Bay, at the present time, is also in, but only in the #6 overall spot. Dallas is still playing to wrap up a first-round bye, but Tampa is one of the NFL’s hottest teams. According to the good folks from Playoff Status, this is one of the two games that most affects the Vikings’ playoff hopes, and things look much better for Minnesota with a Dallas win.
Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins (7:30 PM Central on Monday, ESPN) - Panthers
Thanks to the tie they have on their record, the Redskins currently sit between Tampa Bay and Minnesota in the playoff seedings, but they’re on the outside looking in right now as well. In order to get ahead of Washington in the pecking order, the Vikings would need a Redskins’ loss to go along with their victory over Indianapolis.
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (3:05 PM Central, FOX) - Niners
Atlanta and Tampa Bay are still tied, record-wise, for the top spot in the NFC South, but the Falcons hold the lead in the division at the present time. It’s a good thing that this one doesn’t have that much of an effect on the Vikings’ playoff chances, because the Niners are terrible, and the Falcons shouldn’t have too much issue with them regardless of the status of star receiver Julio Jones.
Philadelphia Eagles at Baltimore Ravens (Noon Central, FOX) - Ravens
A win for Baltimore, who is still fighting for the lead in the AFC North, would pretty much put the final stake in Philadelphia’s season. The fewer teams the Vikings have to compete with for a potential playoff spot, the better.
Detroit Lions at New York Giants (Noon Central, FOX) - Lions
Okay, before everyone freaks out. . .yes, I understand that a Detroit victory on Sunday eliminates the Vikings from divisional title consideration. I get that. However, if we’re looking solely at which scenario is the most beneficial for the Vikings to make the postseason, a Giants’ loss is more helpful than a Detroit loss. A Detroit loss means that the Lions still have to lose their final two games while Minnesota wins out in order to give the division to Minnesota, and would also keep the Giants two games ahead of Minnesota in the Wild Card hunt with two games to play. On the other hand, a New York loss and a Minnesota win would put the Vikings a game behind the Giants, who are one of the few teams the Vikings have a tiebreaker advantage over.
I mean, if you think the Vikings can stay on the narrow path to a division title and that Detroit is going to completely melt down over the next three weeks, then by all means root for the Giants. I’m just looking at what the math says, and the math says that a Lions win is better for the Vikings’ playoff chances than a Giants win.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (Noon Central, FOX) - Bears
No math involved here.
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (3:05 PM Central, FOX) - Cardinals
This one doesn’t really have a whole lot of impact on things either way. I’d just like to point out that, after a couple of weeks of holding our collective noses and hoping for a Saints’ victory. . .both of which resulted in New Orleans failures. . .Vikings fans can feel free to resume cheering against the human trash pile that is Sean Payton.
Last week, the Vikings got basically no help on their road to the postseason from the rest of the National Football League. Time is getting short, and while we know that the Vikings need to handle their own business, it sure would be nice to start getting a little bit of assistance.