In winning their eighth consecutive game on Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings pushed their record to 10-2 and strengthened their grip on a potential first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.
Because of the results of the rest of the early slate, the Vikings now lead the NFC North by four games over both the 6-6 Detroit Lions (who got blown out by the Baltimore Ravens) and the 6-6 Green Bay Packers (who defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime). That means that the Vikings’ scenario for winning their second NFC North title in three seasons comes down to this:
Win one of the last four games.
If the Vikings can get one victory in their final four games, they will officially wrap up the NFC North. They can also clinch if the Packers or the Lions lose one more game. The only way the Vikings lose the NFC North at this point is to drop their last four games and have either the Lions or the Packers win out. (They can’t both win out, as they face each other in Week 17.)
I know we said this a lot about the Vikings’ playoff chances at various points last season, but in order for the Vikings to not win the NFC North this season, they’re going to have to really, really screw this up badly. The Vikings’ last four games look like this:
at Carolina Panthers (8-3, playing in the Sunday late games against New Orleans)
vs Cincinnati (5-6, playing on Monday Night against Pittsburgh)
at Green Bay Packers (6-6)
vs Chicago Bears (3-9)
I don’t know about you, but I’m relatively certain that the Vikings can finagle one victory out of that group of games. It would appear that this team is playing for post-season positioning, a first-round bye, and potential home field advantage all the way through Super Bowl 52.
We’ll have a full NFC playoff picture post after the Sunday Night Football game concludes this evening.