One of the reasons I love the NFL is that each game is so important, especially as you get later in the season. A win can really improve your playoff positioning, and a loss can really, really hurt it.
It’s also why sometimes I hate the NFL, and football can be stupid and terrible and dumb.
Sunday night was a classic example of that, as the Vikings had a chance to take over the number three seed in the NFC with a win against the Bears. But they lost, and Minnesota is now walking a tightrope in the NFC playoff picture. If you want to see how things have gone since we started tracking this you can go here and read last week’s post, and that has links to the previous posts, which go back to the Jets game in week seven.
If you don’t want to take the time to get caught up, a quick primer, if I may: I’ve been using two sites to help with playoff percentages and seeding, the 538 playoff predictor, and Playoff Predictors dot com, which allow you to waste hours of your day coming up with ‘if-then’ win-loss scenarios to see who is in and who is out of the playoffs. Since we started this, the Vikings chances for a playoff spot haven’t dipped below 50%, but they’ve swung back and forth.
Throughout the last month or so, the Vikings playoff chances have gone from a high of 68%, right after their win against the Jets, to a low of 51%, after their Sunday Night loss to the Saints. After the bye week, the Vikings playoff chances, along with the rest of the NFC North, looked like this:
The Vikings were right there with the Bears, and had a real shot to move in to the driver’s seat, but yeah, whatever. Vikes lose 25-20 and now things look like this:
This really puts in graphic terms how harsh that loss to Chicago was. Minnesota is once again about 50/50 to make the playoffs, like they were after the Saints game, and the Bears now have a hammerlock on a playoff spot and the NFC North. Heck, if a couple things break their way Chicago might even sneak into a number two seed and get a bye. I don’t see it, but then again, I didn’t see the Bears sitting at 7-3 at this point of the season, either.
Green Bay’s slim playoff hopes and Mike McCarthy’s job pretty much died in Seattle last Thursday, and even though Detroit did what they could to help the Vikes get a number three seed by knocking off Carolina, they’re sitting at 4-6 and are pretty much done, too.
With all that in mind, let’s move over to the Playoff Predictions site, and do a little what if. Right now the Bears have the three seed, Redskins fourth, Panthers fifth, and even with the loss Sunday Night, Minnesota is still the number six seed, like they were last week. If the playoffs were to start this weekend, they’d be going right back to Chicago to play the Bears.
Had the Vikings won, however, they would have moved in to the third seed, thanks to losses by the Panthers and Washington. The Bears would drop down to the five spot, and the Panthers would be the sixth seed. When the 2018 epitaph for the Vikings is written, there will be 2-3 games (depending on how the rest of the schedule plays out, of course), that we’ll look back on and kick the ground in frustration. The Sunday night loss to the Bears will be dirt kicker one, followed by the Saints, the Packers tie, and that ‘what the hell’ Bills game.
Even with all the disappointment, the Vikings still have an outside chance to win the division. The Bears have a really short turnaround to play Detroit on Thanksgiving, and Mitchell Trubisky is questionable to play. For those who are wondering, Mizzou’s finest, Chase Daniel, is the Bears backup QB. If Detroit can somehow knock off the Bears, and the Vikings can beat Green Bay, they’re back to within half a game of the division.
Chicago then has the Giants and the Rams, and they close things out with Green Bay, at San Francisco, and at Minnesota. If...and it’s a big if...the Vikings can manage get two road wins in Seattle and New England, or just go 1-1, they finish up with the Dolphins, Lions, and then the Bears at home to finish the season. It’s not probable, but possible Chicago would be 9-6 heading to Minnesota, and the Vikings are 9-5-1. If that happens, Minnesota would have a chance at redemption and could win the division.
Still, the most realistic scenario in week 17 is that the Bears have locked up the three seed, can’t get a bye, can’t get bumped down, and the Vikings will be playing for a wildcard. Several things have to break Minnesota’s way for the season finale to be for the NFC North title, and that is a longshot at this point, but, it’s not impossible.
Stranger things have happened.
Will the Vikings make the playoffs?
This poll is closed
Yes, as NFC North champion
Yes, as a Wild Card