Week 16 in the National Football League is about to start with a Saturday tripleheader, as we usually get a handful of Saturday games on Christmas week because. . .honestly, I don’t know why. That’s just how the NFL does it. While the Minnesota Vikings don’t play until Monday night this week, one of these Saturday games could propel them into a postseason berth before they even take the field.
With the way everything has fallen over the past couple of weeks, there is now only one team that could potentially take a playoff spot away from the Vikings. Therefore, there’s only one game to focus on in our cheering interest guide for this week. Yes, the Vikings can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over Green Bay on Monday night, but in the interest of keeping things as drama-free as possible over these next couple of weeks, I wouldn’t mind seeing it happen before then.
Saturday Game That Matters
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers - In order to take a playoff spot away from the Vikings, the Rams would have to win their final two games (at San Francisco tonight and at home against Arizona in Week 17) and have the Vikings lose their final two games (at home against Green Bay and at home against Chicago). That would put the Rams and the Vikings both at 10-6, and the Rams would win the tiebreaker over the Vikings based on a superior conference record (8-4 for the Rams vs 7-5 for the Vikings in that scenario).
A loss or a tie for the Rams tonight means that they could not reach 10 wins, thereby giving Minnesota a playoff spot. Every other team in the NFC, save for the two teams vying for the NFC East, has been eliminated from playoff contention. And, since the NFC East runner-up can’t qualify for a Wild Card spot, the Rams/Niners game is the only game on the schedule (outside of their own) that is of any consequence to the Vikings.
For the Vikings, taking care of their own business is obviously important, as they still have an outside shot of winning the NFC North in these final two weeks of the season. In the interest of securing a postseason berth, however, the choice tonight is a pretty clear one.