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Vikings in danger zone with 3 weeks to go

Vikings still have a 61% chance to make the playoffs, per analytics company.
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Saturday’s collapse in Cincinnati wasn’t a fatal blow to the Minnesota Vikings, but it left them far more vulnerable with three weeks left in the regular season. 

Sunday’s outcomes weren’t all good for the Vikings (7-7). Yes, the Packers (6-8) lost at home to the Bucs (7-7) and the Falcons (6-8) lost to the woeful Panthers (2-12), but the Rams (7-7) and Saints (7-7) won.

If Minnesota loses at home next Sunday to the Lions (10-4), not only will their NFC North title hopes be dashed but they could also wind up on the outside looking in at the NFC playoff field. 

If the playoffs started this week, the Vikings would squeeze in as the No. 6 seed and the Rams would be No. 7. The Vikings are 6-3 in the NFC compared to 5-4 for the Rams, while the Saints are 4-5 in the conference. 

It could get stickier if the Seahawks beat the Eagles on Monday night to get to 7-7. Seattle is 5-5 in conference play so a win would get them to 6-5 against NFC foes. 

Week 16 key games:

  • Saints at Rams, 7:15 p.m. Thursday
  • Falcons vs. Colts, 12 p.m. Sunday
  • Seahawks at Titans, 12 p.m. Sunday
  • Vikings vs. Lions, 12 p.m. Sunday
  • Packers at Panthers, 12 p.m. Sunday
  • Buccaneers vs. Jaguars, 3:05 p.m. Sunday

Barring a tie, either the Saints or Rams will be 8-7 so if the Vikings lose they would drop to 7-8 and be the seventh seed with two weeks to go. 

If the Falcons, Packers, Seahawks and Vikings are all 7-8 after next week, Minnesota will own the tiebreaker thanks to head-to-head wins over the Falcons and Packers and a better conference record than the Seahawks. But that would set the stage for a border battle for the ages on New Year’s Eve between Minnesota and Green Bay. 

Another thing to be aware of is that if the final playoff spot comes down to a tiebreaker between the Vikings and Buccaneers, the Bucs will win it because of their win at Minnesota in the season opener. That’s why it is best for the Vikings if the Bucs win the South and stay out of the Wild-card conversation. 

According to Tankathon, the Vikings have the fifth-hardest remaining schedule in the NFL. Still, the data from SumerSports says they have a 61% chance to make the playoffs. 

The odds are still in Minnesota’s favor, but they have without a doubt entered the danger zone. 

Kevin O’Connell

Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O Connell calls a play in the third quarter of a Week 15 NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals won 27-24 in overtime.