We’ve reached that time of year where we start looking at playoff scenarios, specifically those that will punch the Minnesota Vikings’ ticket back to the playoffs. The Vikings are sitting in the #6 spot in the NFC right now, but with four weeks of football left there are still a lot of things that can happen.
Now, these guides are going to be focused on getting the Vikings into the playoffs. We know what the scenario for winning a division title is. . .win and hope that Green Bay loses. We’re going to be looking at the rest of the league to see which games help the Vikings toward their goal of reaching the post-season.
With that, let’s get to this week’s cheering interest guide. Cheering for a Vikings’ victory over the Detroit Lions is implied by. . .well, by the fact that you’re reading a Vikings’ cheering interest guide. So we won’t include that one.
Thursday Night Football
Cowboys at Bears - The Bears are still alive for a playoff spot at 6-6. The Cowboys are 6-6, too, but the only way they’re getting into the playoffs is by winning the dumpster fire that is the NFC East. In any scenario where the Vikings tie with either Dallas or Philadelphia. . .either of which is unlikely to happen. . .the Vikings would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over either of those teams. Should the Vikings win and the Bears lose, the Vikings would be three games ahead of Chicago with three to play, which should just about end Chicago’s postseason hopes. So, go Cowboys!
Sunday Early Games
Panthers at Falcons - I don’t think the Panthers are a serious threat or anything, as they currently sit at 5-7, but a loss for them would eliminate them from playoff contention, and making things less crowded is always better. Go Falcons!
49ers at Saints - This one really doesn’t have an effect on the Vikings, but it could have an effect on first-round byes and things of that nature. Again, like the game above this one, I can’t imagine anyone here cheering for the Saints. Go Niners!
Sunday Night Football
Seahawks at Rams - The Vikings likely aren’t going to catch the Seahawks in terms of record because the Seahawks have the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Rams, at this point, are really the only team that poses a serious threat to the Vikings in the Wild Card chase, as they currently sit one game back with four to play. This is the biggest game of the weekend as far as the playoff picture for the Vikings is concerned. Go Seahawks!
Monday Night Football
The rest of the NFL schedule for Week 14 has basically no effect on the Vikings’ postseason hopes, so we won’t go into them here.
The big one to keep an eye on is the Sunday Night Football matchup. How much does that one affect the Vikings’ chances?
Well, according to the New York Times Upshot tool, the Vikings currently sit with a 73% chance of making the playoffs before any of this week’s action takes place.
- A Vikings victory over the Lions bumps that up to 84% before the Seahawks and Rams even take the field.
- A Vikings win coupled with a Rams loss bumps that number up to 90%.
- A Vikings win and a Rams win puts the number at 72%, or essentially what it was when we started.
- The worst-case scenario. . .a Vikings’ loss and a Rams win. . .and the number drops all the way down to 39%, making the Rams the favorite to grab the last playoff spot in the NFC.
If the Vikings beat the Lions and all six of the other games I’ve touched on above go the way we’d like them to, that puts the Vikings’ playoff chances up to 92%, as they’d have a two-game lead over the Rams with three to play, and the rest of the NFC field would basically be eliminated. But, given that, you can see that none of those other games matter nearly as much as the Sunday Night Football matchup.
That’s your cheering guide for this week, folks. Hopefully, with any luck, by this time next week we’ll be talking about playoff clinching scenarios and not just things that will help the Vikings out a bit.