It’s getting pretty late in the 2022 NFL season, but as we head into Week 13 there are just two teams that can officially clinch playoff berths as early as this weekend.
The Minnesota Vikings are one of those teams, as they can officially clinch the NFC North division title if they can defeat the New York Jets on Sunday and get some help from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville will be at Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon at the same time as the Jets/Vikings game is happening. So, the Vikings could be the NFC North champs by about 3:30 PM Central time on Sunday if everything breaks the right way.
Minnesota’s “magic number” to win the NFC North is down to just two, and the only team that can realistically stop them from winning their first division title since 2017 is the Lions. That magic number means that any combination of Vikings wins and Lions losses that add up to two will wrap up the division for Minnesota. . .be it two Minnesota wins, two Detroit losses, or one of each.
That means that, even if the Vikings should lose to the Jets on Sunday, they could wrap things up when they face the Lions at Ford Field in Week 14.
Chicago has already been eliminated from divisional title contention, as they’ve already lost nine games and the Vikings can’t lose any more than eight, even if they don’t win another game. Green Bay has eight losses, meaning that they’re not technically eliminated yet, but it would take a combination of Green Bay winning six straight games and Minnesota losing six straight in order for them to get there.
The other team that could potentially clinch a playoff spot this coming week, as you’d probably expect, is the Philadelphia Eagles. They can wrap up a playoff spot if they get a combination of a victory over Tennessee and losses by Washington, San Francisco, and Seattle. But that’s just for a playoff spot. . .that wouldn’t get them the NFC East title yet because the Cowboys are close enough to them to still have a chance should the Eagles stumble a bit.
If the Vikings were to clinch a divisional title with five weeks remaining, it would tie them for the earliest a team has done so in the Super Bowl era, as you can see in the tweet below.
The ‘97 49ers were the only team on this list not to reach the Super Bowl (lost the NFC title game at home to the Packers). https://t.co/DNNoFgINs7— Ben Goessling (@BenGoessling) November 28, 2022
As the tweets say, five of the six teams that clinched a divisional title with five weeks to play wound up playing in the Super Bowl. So, that sounds like a pretty positive thing. I get that past performance is not indicative of future results and whatnot, but it’s still kind of cool.
Do you think the Vikings get it done this weekend, folks? Do the Vikings take down the Jets on Sunday? Will our friends from Jacksonville give the purple the assistance they need? Or will we have to wait?