There are only four games remaining in the 2016 NFL season for your Minnesota Vikings, and with them currently sitting on a 6-6 record, they’re going to need help to make it to the post-season. Yes, if they win out and get to 10-6 they have a very good chance of reaching the playoffs, but since they don’t currently control their own destiny, they do need some assistance in order to make the post-season.
With Week 13 action resuming in a few hours, let’s take a look at what games affect the purple and gold, and how we should be looking for those games to go, shall we? We’ll do these in chronological order.
Games That Matter
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (FOX, 12:00 PM Central): Saints
Yes, I understand that it’s going to be tough to pull for a team led by Sean Payton. However, the Vikings’ best chance at the post-season likely remains winning the NFC North, and in order to make that happen the Lions have to start losing football games. Detroit has a much tougher stretch to finish the season than Minnesota does, at least on paper, so there’s a chance that this could happen. A loss in New Orleans today would be a good start. This is the biggest game of the weekend as far as the Vikings’ playoff interests are concerned.
Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers (CBS, 12:00 PM Central): Texans
Because I have to specifically tell you to cheer against Green Bay, right? No, I don’t. . .but there you have it anyway. If Green Bay wins today, they pull even with Minnesota, but would still technically be behind the Vikings based on head-to-head tiebreakers. But it would be nice if the gap was a little larger, wouldn’t it?
Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons (CBS, 12:00 PM Central): Chiefs
If the Vikings, for whatever reason, can’t get to the top of the NFC North (even with a 10-6 record), the next best thing would be for as many NFC teams as possible to get knocked down a couple of notches. Hence the pick here.
Los Angeles Rams at New England Patriots (FOX, 12:00 PM Central): Patriots
No specific reason, really, other than the Rams still employ Gregg Williams. Screw that guy.
Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals (FOX, 12:00 PM Central): Bengals
Again, the more NFC teams lose, even in inter-conference matchups, the better it is for Minnesota.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Diego Chargers (FOX, 3:25 PM Central): Chargers
A loss for Tampa would drop them to the same 6-6 record as Minnesota. They’d still be ahead of the Vikings based on conference record, and they’d both still be on the outside looking in. A win could move them into the #6 spot in the playoffs if Washington were to lose their game. Anything that hurts the teams ahead of Minnesota in any way is good, so let’s hope the Bolts can hold home field in this one.
Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals (FOX, 3:25 PM Central): Cardinals
Washington could fall out of the #6 spot in the playoffs with a loss, as they’d be at 6-5-1 and ahead Minnesota, but could drop behind Tampa Bay if they were to win this afternoon. In any event, they need to start losing more frequently, too.
New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers (FOX, 3:25 PM Central): Steelers
With the Cowboys sort of running away with the NFC East, the Giants (like Washington) are a part of the Wild Card mix, and one of the teams that Minnesota would actually hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over in a scenario where they have the same record. So, if teams could start knocking them down a bit, it would help the Vikings. The Vikings would still be two games behind the G-Men with a New York loss today, but every little bit helps.
Games That Really Don’t Matter
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars (CBS, 12:00 PM Central)
Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (CBS, 12:00 PM Central)
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears (FOX, 12:00 PM Central)
Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders (CBS, 3:25 PM Central)
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (NBC, 7:25 PM Central)
Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets (ESPN, Monday Night)
There you have it, folks! We’ll have an Open Thread up about half an hour before the kickoff of the early games for discussion of all of Sunday’s NFL action.