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Let’s talk playoffs

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Because it looks like it’s gonna happen

NFL: Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

The last five weeks have been somewhat of a roller coaster for the Minnesota Vikings. After playing their worst game of the year at Chicago and dropping to 2-2, they were at their low point of the season in more ways than one.

There was an existential crisis about the future of the team as it’s currently constructed, and there was serious talk about the futures of players and coaches, It felt that there was momentum building for a complete deconstruction and rebuild coming, from head coach down to the 53rd man on the roster. For a team that was supposed to be built to make a serious run at the Super Bowl, their playoff odds stood at just a mere 22%. Oh, and as always, I use two main sites to get the playoff percentages and seeding, the 538 NFL playoff predictor, and Playoff Predictors Dot Com.

The Vikings turned their season around by winning four in a row, then answered a big question about who they are as a team by beating the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday Night Football. That win took their playoff chances from 67% to 86%:

After Sunday’s incredible come from behind victory over Denver, combined with the rest of the weekend’s action, the Vikings have put a near-hammer lock on a playoff spot, and are keeping pace with Green Bay for the NFC North title. Let’s take a look:

The Vikings are no longer just within shouting distance of the Packers. They have moved to within half a game of tying them, and Green Bay travels to San Francisco next week while the Vikings are on their bye. If the Packers lose that game, their chances of winning the division drop to a mere 52%, and the Vikings will be tied for first, although still trail due to tiebreakers.

As to the Bears and Lions, they’re done. They haven’t been officially eliminated, but with both teams losing this past weekend and sitting at six losses, there’s virtually no chance they can make up this much ground with just six games remaining.

The wildcard spots are starting to firm up a bit as well. Let’s take a look at the closest teams to the Vikings:

Obviously, the Vikings Monday night game with Seattle in two weeks is going to be enormous in terms of postseason playoff seeding. But before they meet the Vikings, Seattle travels to Philadelphia to play the Eagles. If Seattle loses both of those games, their playoff odds drop down to 64%. For Philly, it’s pretty simple—they need to beat the Seahawks. Dallas travels to New England, and if the Cowboys lose and the Eagles win, the Eagles now become the favorite to win the NFC East.

The Rams kept their less than optimal playoff hopes alive by beating the Fightin’ Trubiskys on Sunday Night, and if they get in it will almost have to be as a wildcard. Since they’re seventh in the NFC right now with the Vikings sitting in the six seed spot, we’re going to keep tabs on them.

But yeah, bye Carolina. You’re pretty much done. Losing to Atlanta at home will do that.

Let’s get back to the Vikings, though. Simply put, the next two weeks are huge for them. If Green Bay loses to San Francisco and beats the Giants the following week, and the Vikes beat Seattle, Minnesota would be the odds on favorite to win the division, at 53%. They would also move into the thick of the first round bye race with New Orleans. But if the Vikings lose to Seattle and the Packers beat the 49ers, it’s pretty much wildcard or bust at that point for Minnesota.

And there will be DOOM throughout the Kingdom.

So, your rooting interests for this week should be:

San Francisco over Green Bay, but duh.

Philadelphia over Seattle

Baltimore over the Rams

Carolina over New Orleans (helps for a bye).

It’s been quite the run for the Vikings over the last five weeks, and even though they have their bye this weekend, there are still some important games that will shape the playoff race and affect the Vikings.

Enjoy the bye, and go Poop Eaters!