We’ve got just three weeks left in the 2019 NFL regular season, and there have been a lot of teams eliminated from the playoff chase in the NFC. In fact, in contrast to last week’s cheering guide, there are only two other games that matter to fans of the Minnesota Vikings in addition to their Sunday afternoon clash with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Let’s take a look at those games, along with a look at how the Vikings’ playoff chances will be affected depending on how those games go.
According to the “Upshot” tool at the New York Times, the Vikings’ odds of making the 2019 NFL playoffs are at 70% as of today. That’s lower than I thought it was, to be honest, but that’s the baseline number we’re rolling with.
Early Sunday game that matters
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers - If there was ever a game that could be summed up with the age-old response “Why can’t they both lose,” this would be the one.
There is actually a case to be made for pulling for either of these teams. A win for the Vikings and a loss for the Bears would officially eliminate the Bears from playoff contention. However, a win for the Vikings and a win for the Bears would leave the Bears two games behind the Vikings for the last Wild Card spot (with two games to play) and put the Vikings back into a first-place tie with the Packers in the NFC North going into the Week 16 Monday Night game.
I guess your cheering interest in this one depends entirely upon the level of faith you have in the Vikings continuing to win out. Though I’m biased. . .obviously. . .I’ve got the Vikings winning on Sunday, so let’s shoot for the big goal. Go Bears!
Late Sunday game that matters
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys - The Rams still pose the greatest threat to the Vikings if we’re focusing solely on a Wild Card spot, as they’re one game back with three games to play. They also appear to be peaking at the right time, as they put a pretty good stomping on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football last week.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, appear to be cratering. . .and, yet, they still sit in first place in the NFC East and, if the season ended today, would be hosting a game on Wild Card Weekend. Like the Vikings, they also have a big divisional matchup coming in Week 16 when they travel to Philadelphia, but it’s not as though they can overlook the Rams at this point. If the Cowboys would like to pick this week to pretend that they’re actually good at football again, that would be ideal. Go Cowboys!
No other teams in the NFC can potentially move the Vikings out of a playoff spot, so these are the only two non-Vikings games that mean anything to Minnesota fans.
Here is a look at how the Vikings’ playoff odds fluctuate depending on the outcome of these three games.
- Vikings win, Packers win, Cowboys win - 96% chance of making playoffs
- Vikings win, Bears win, Cowboys win - 91% chance of making playoffs
- Vikings win, Packers win, Rams win - 80% chance of making playoffs
- Vikings win, Bears win, Rams win - 78% chance of making playoffs
- Chargers win, Packers win, Cowboys win - 73% chance of making playoffs
- Chargers win, Bears win, Cowboys win - 67% chance of making playoffs
- Chargers win, Bears win, Rams win - 44% chance of making playoffs
- Chargers win, Packers win, Rams win - 34% chance of making playoffs
These numbers will fluctuate slightly if you plug in results for any of the other games this week, but not a whole lot. The above numbers are based on the results of those three games independent of any other results for this week.
I understand that if the Vikings continue taking care of their own business, nothing that anybody else does matters. All of these teams have tough games in Week 16. . .the Vikings play the Packers on Monday Night Football, the Rams will take on the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, and the Bears host the Kansas City Chiefs. A win for the Vikings over the Chargers might not necessarily reflect in the odds for this week, depending on what those other two teams do, but it would certainly be advantageous going into Week 16.
So, SKOL VIKINGS, obviously, and here’s hoping we can get some help along the way. I really want to see this team in the playoffs, no matter where they are, but obviously a playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium would be pretty great.