The Vikings loss to Tampa Bay certainly didn’t help their playoff chances, but it wasn’t fatal to them either. Here are the scenarios where the Vikings make the playoffs. Most hinge on the performance of the Arizona Cardinals over the last three games, in addition to the Vikings own performance.
Vikings Beat Chicago and Detroit, but Lose to New Orleans
This is perhaps the most likely outcome for the Vikings over the last three games. For the Vikings to make the playoffs, the Cardinals would need to lose two more games. They play Philadelphia, San Francisco, and the LA Rams. Pretty good chance they lose to the Rams, while anything could happen against the Eagles and 49ers, particularly as the Eagles just beat the Saints. The Vikings hold the tiebreaker over the Cardinals if they finish the season with the same record.
The 49ers would also need to lose one more game. They play Dallas, Arizona, and Seattle.
The Vikings Lose to Chicago and New Orleans, Beat Detroit
An increasingly difficult and unlikely scenario for the Vikings to make the playoffs. The Bears would have to lose their remaining games against Jacksonville and Green Bay.
The Cardinals would need to lose all three of their remaining games.
And, the 49ers would need to lose their games against Dallas and Seattle.
Vikings Win Out
The Vikings would just need the Cardinals to lose one game and they would make the playoffs.
Vikings Lose to Chicago, Beat New Orleans and Detroit
The Vikings would then need the Cardinals to lose two more games, and the 49ers and Bears to lose one more game.
If the Vikings Land the 7th Seed
If the Vikings make the playoffs, it would almost certainly be the 7th seed. Currently, that would mean once again they’d play the New Orleans Saints on the road in the wild card round. The Saints loss to the Eagles cost them the #1 seed, which now is held by the Packers.
Whichever team the Vikings would play in the wild card round, if they advanced they’d play the #1 seed in the division round.
The Vikings most important game is their next one against the Bears. Beating the Bears would pretty much eliminate them from playoff contention, and put the pressure on the Cardinals. The Bears offense has put up over 30 points the last two weeks, so it’s no gimme.
If the Vikings can beat their remaining division rivals, while losing to the Saints, they still have an even chance to make the playoffs.