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Vikings Path to the Playoffs Narrows Considerably

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Vikings loss to the Cowboys puts them at 4-6 on the season, and while they still have a narrow window to make the playoffs, the odds of them making the playoffs lengthened considerably after yesterday’s result.

Here’s where they’re at:

NFC Playoff Picture

If the season ended today, these seven teams would make the postseason in the NFC:

1. Saints (8-2)

2. Packers (7-3)

3. Seahawks (7-3)

4. Eagles (3-6-1)

5. Buccaneers (7-3)

6. Rams (6-3)

7. Cardinals (6-4)

The ‘in the hunt’ teams are as follows:

8. Bears (5-5)

9. Vikings (4-6)

10. Lions (4-6)

11. 49ers (4-6)

12. Panthers (4-7)

How the Vikings Make the Playoffs

As the Vikings play the Bears, Panthers and Lions, if they beat them and finish with the same record, the Vikings would make the playoffs given the head-to-head tie-breaker advantage if the Cardinals finish with a worse record, along with the 49ers.

If the Vikings can beat the Bears, Panthers and Lions, I seriously doubt they’d come out ahead of the Vikings with their remaining schedule. The Bears play the Packers twice, the Panthers the Packers and Saints, and the Lions have the Bucs, Packers, and Titans yet.

The 49ers have the Rams, Cards, Bills and Seahawks left on their schedule, and given the injuries they’ve sustained, it’s hard to see them winning any of these games. They also play the Washington Football Team and the Cowboys.

The biggest obstacle for the Vikings is the Arizona Cardinals. Their remaining schedule is at the Patriots, Rams twice, at the Giants, the Eagles, and 49ers. I’d say two, three loses maximum for the Cards down the stretch with that schedule, barring somewhat of a collapse and/or injury/Covid problems. But you never know. The Rams could beat them twice, and then maybe the Patriots and Giants/49ers can pull out an upset and they lose 4.

The Vikings would need the Cardinals to lose at least three of their remaining six games, and the Vikings would need to finish 5-1 to overtake the Cardinals based on the tie-breaker of having a better record against common opponents.

Considering the Vikings still have the Bucs and Saints on their schedule, finishing 5-1 is a very tall order. Both of those teams have top run defenses and offenses that can exploit the Vikings’ weak defense. And none of the Vikings’ remaining games are gimmes, particularly having just lost to the Cowboys.

Bottom Line

The Vikings need to go at least 5-1 and finish 9-7 to have a realistic chance at making the playoffs. Even then, if the Cardinals only lose two more games, the Vikings would still likely be out of the post-season unless one of the other current playoff teams collapses down the stretch.