There are two weeks left in the 2016 NFL regular season, and the road to the postseason for the Minnesota Vikings is a pretty narrow one. On the bright side, that means that there aren’t very many games that actually matter as far as what affects their road to the playoffs.
Which games are those? Well, let’s take a look at the list.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (Noon Central, FOX) - Vikings
Once again. . .say it along with me. . .if the Vikings lose on Saturday, none of the rest of these games matter.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (3:25 PM Central, FOX) - Saints
The only shot the Vikings have at the postseason involves the Buccaneers losing both of their games over the next two weeks. So, once again, we’re in the bad position of having to rely on a Sean Payton-coached team to not suck. They’re probably not up to the task.
Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears (Noon Central, FOX) - Bears
The Redskins have to lose at least one of their last two as part of the scenario that would give Minnesota a chance to make it to the playoffs. It can either be this one or their season finale next week against Philadelphia. Sure, pulling for a divisional rival is no fun, but I’m not going to be terribly picky.
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (7:30 PM Central on Monday, ESPN) - Lions
With the Giants’ loss to the Eagles on Thursday night, the Cowboys officially wrapped up the NFC East and the #1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs, so they’ve got nothing to play for over the next two weeks. If both the Vikings and the Lions were to win this weekend, the Lions would wrap up the NFC North, which I think we can all agree is the more preferable scenario as far as NFC North playoff berths are concerned if the Vikings are no longer a divisional title possibility.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (Noon Central, CBS) - Bills
Nothing to do with the postseason as far as this one is concerned. But, really, we’d like those two draft picks that the Vikings are getting from Miami in the 2017 NFL Draft to be as high as possible, wouldn’t we? The fourth-round pick is a conditional pick that may or may not involve a compensatory selection (it will be Miami’s lowest fourth-rounder if they get a compensatory fourth), but the third-round pick they’ll be receiving is not. So, the more Miami losses, the better for Minnesota.
Sadly, even if everything this week goes the way we want it to in this scenario, the Vikings still wouldn’t be in control of their own destiny for the postseason. In addition to a victory over Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium next week, they would still have to rely on a Tampa Bay loss to Carolina in Week 17 to have any chance of getting in (and, possibly, a Washington loss to Philadelphia if the Redskins can beat the Bears this week).
It’s a long shot, to be sure, but as long as the shot is still there we’ll talk about the possibility.