Credit for this article goes to u/noseonarug17 on Reddit for putting this together. I thought it should be reposted here for the benefit of a wider audience.
Cheering for a loss
Now that the Vikings beat the Lions and basically sealed the division, here are the teams that the Vikings and their fans should be actively rooting against today and tomorrow, with the teams we should be rooting for italicized:
The Panthers are currently 7-3, so they retain an outside shot at catching the Vikings in record, especially if they play well down the stretch. While they will probably still beat the Jets, New York pulling an upset would be a big help and would likely keep the Panthers back as a wild card team.
This one is pretty obvious. The Eagles lead the NFL in record, and they’d tie the Vikings if they lose. If they win, the Eagles retain the top seed in the NFC for yet another week. If the Eagles were to lose this game, the Vikings would advance to the top seed in the NFC, but only if this next result also happens.
The Saints remain neck and neck with the Vikings for a top seed in the NFC and they currently hold the three-way tiebreaker were they, the Eagles and the Vikings to all have the same record. So be cheering hard for the Rams today, because the Saints are feisty but they are down their top two corners so they will have a tougher time of it on defense (one can only hope).
Need I say more here? Well, I’ll say a little more, anyway. The Packers losing this game would drop them below .500, tied with the Cowboys and Redskins (and possibly the Cardinals and Bucs, depending on how today’s games go). That would be huge, because the next two games for the Packers are, for any kind of quality team, relatively easy, as they take on the hapless Bucs and Browns. So yeah, tacking on a loss here would be huge in keeping Aaron Rodgers’ return meaningless in the NFL playoff picture.
Wins that assist with tiebreakers
Chargers @ Cowboys
While we don’t play either of these teams this season, this win by the Chargers helps to muddy the NFC wild card race, which can only be a benefit to us.
Giants @ Washington
We did play Washington so their victory over the Giants on Thanksgiving improves our strength of schedule and strength of victory. It also does the same for the Saints, Rams and Eagles, but that can’t be helped. We will take what we can get!
We’ve already beaten the Bucs, so a win by them here would raise our SOV a little. Of course, we also play the Falcons next week, so keeping that NFC playoff picture muddy helps keep things interesting over the last few weeks of the season. Of course, a Falcons win would keep the Lions at bay for a little while longer, so it’s hard to go wrong with this game; either team winning helps us.
Basically the same logic as the Bucs/Falcons game. A loss by the Seahawks muddies up the waters and keeps them nice and far away from getting a home playoff game. A loss by the 49ers keeps the Lions out of the hunt for another week as well. I’d say rooting interest would be in the 49ers because it would be a bad loss for the Seahawks, but it’s not huge either way.
It’s pretty small, but a Ravens win tomorrow night improves Minnesota’s strength of victory and also makes our dominating win over them and their currently top-ranked defense according to DVOA look all the more impressive.
Tangential tiebreaking effects
Here’s a look at a few games that, while they don’t affect the Vikings or their tiebreakers, do affect other teams hot on their heels in the playoff race.
We want the Patriots to win because the Dolphins losing weakens New Orleans’ strength of victory. Not much, but it could be something if tiebreakers become a major factor down the line.
Makes the Eagles’ sole loss look even worse and weakens their strength of schedule and strength of victory.
Root for whomever you wish
There are a few games going on today that don’t matter in the slightest to the Vikings.
Browns @ Bengals
We play both teams so strength of schedule isn’t affected and as long as we beat the Bengals strength of victory shouldn’t matter either.
We don’t play either of these teams and they don’t make any difference in any tiebreaking procedure.
Again, doesn’t matter. Though I’d still avoid watching this game, because I think we all know exactly how awful it’s gonna be.
Jaguars @ Cardinals
We don’t play either team and they don’t matter in terms of tiebreakers.
So there you have it Vikings fans, that’s who you should be cheering on today and tomorrow. Now settle in, because this should be an interesting day of football!