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How big was that win yesterday?

If you like playoff predictions and odds, it was a pretty big deal

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Hi kids, how are we feeling this afternoon? A three game win streak that puts the Vikings alone in first place in the NFC North should have you feeling pretty good about the local team and life in general, I would think.

But yeah, it’s also Monday, so I get it if things kind of blow today.

I have to admit I was a bit worried last week about the Jets game, and I talked about it in this piece right here. A loss against the Jets would have been pretty bad, for any number of reasons. Turns out I was right in thinking how brutal a loss to the Jets would have been for the VIkings and their playoff chances. But, they won. It might have been ugly for awhile, but they got it done.

And in so doing, their playoff chances and playoff seeding increased substantially.

If you fine folks here at DN have read any of my musings on a regular basis, you know I’m not a number cruncher type of writer, for the most part. I’ll look at trends and use them to form my ridiculously obtuse opinions, but using a lot of stats in my writing isn’t something I’m particularly good at.

However, one site I’ve really started to enjoy is the playoff predictor from 538, a site more known for political polls and predictions as opposed to sports. But they’ve been doing a playoff predictor for the NFL for awhile now, and I really enjoyed following it last season as the Vikings chased Philly and New Orleans for homefield advantage and a first round bye.

If you’re not familiar with the site, they take the results of the games each week, the remaining schedule, and using math and formulas that I don’t understand they come up with weekly playoff percentages for each team, to include the chances of winning the division and getting a first round bye. I didn’t look at it the first month or so of the season, but I think I’m going to make this a weekly post, now that we’re almost halfway through 2018.

Anyway, last week, the Vikings had a 57% chance to make the playoffs, but only a 43% chance to win the division, and a miniscule shot at a first round bye. If I remember correctly, the Bears were ahead of the Vikings in all those categories, and both the Packers and the Lions were in the 30-40 percentile range to make the playoffs.

After yesterday’s games, let’s take a look at where things now stand in the NFC North in terms of making it to ‘The Dance’ (playoff percentages taken from 538):

That’s a pretty dramatic one week jump for the Vikings and drop off for the Bears, the Packers lost a lot of ground even though they had a bye, and Detroit changed very little.

But how bad would it have been if the Vikings had lost?

Well, I also found a site called Playoff Predictors, and I think I could waste hours going over all the different possible what if scenarios. (Warning: this site is a ginormous time killer so it’s not my fault if the rest of your work day is unproductive). Had Minnesota lost to the Jets yesterday and fallen to 3-3-1, they would have gone from the number four seed in the NFC playoffs to ninth. So yeah, that was a big game. Had both the Vikes and Bears won, the Bears would currently be the fourth seed, and the Vikings sixth.

That loss to the Patriots really hurt the Bears, though, as they dropped from division leader hosting a first round playoff game to the 10th seed, with Green Bay still the sixth seed...even though 538 predicts the Packers have the lowest chance to make the playoffs, muahahahaha.

Detroit is currently the ninth seed, sitting at 3-3 right behind two other .500 teams in Seattle and Tampa Bay. Had the Lions lost to Miami, they would have tumbled to 2-4, the 13th seed in the conference, and in my opinion almost no shot at the post season. They have yet to be seeded in a hypothetical ‘if the playoffs started today’ scenario, but have climbed out of an early 0-2 start to get back to .500. You’ve probably seen the stat that says teams that start out 0-2 have an 11% chance to make the playoffs, and what a difference a 1-1 start would have been for Detroit.

Let’s say they won their second game of the year against San Francisco, and every other result in the NFL so far this year remains the same. At 4-2, Detroit would be in first place in the NFC North and the number four seed. Minnesota would be the sixth seed, and Green Bay would be out of the playoffs. Starting 0-2 really is a tough hurdle to overcome, and puts teams behind the power curve early.

Speaking of Green Bay...let’s go back to that week two tie the Vikings and Packers had. All other things being equal, if the Packers win that game, they’re 4-2 and the number four seed currently, with the Vikings the number six seed. If the Vikes win that game, they are the number three seed in the NFC and the only NFC North playoff team, as Detroit, Green Bay, and Chicago fall to the number eight, nine, and 10 seeds, respectively.

I know there’s still over half the season to play, and a ton of things can and will happen. The Vikings have only played one divisional game, and how they do in those five remaining games will largely determine whether or not they go to the playoffs. Lose most or all of those games and no matter where the Vikings sit today, they won’t be going anywhere come January.

Still, I always enjoy these ‘if the playoffs started today’ kind of things, because I think it really shows just how crucial each game in the NFL is on a week to week basis.


Would you like a weekly ‘playoffs update’ post regarding the Vikings and the NFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Yes-these are pretty interesting, and it’s fun to talk about.
    (1528 votes)
  • 17%
    No-it doesn’t matter right now, and I am dumber for having read this.
    (315 votes)
1843 votes total Vote Now