Minnesota Vikings Might Have to Win Out to Have Chance at Playoffs

Given the up-and-down nature of the 2021 NFL season for the Minnesota Vikings through 15 weeks of the regular season, it’s hard to imagine them being in the hunt for a playoff spot at this point in the year. Yet, here we are, heading into Week 16, and Minnesota still remains right in the heart of the NFC playoff picture with a few games remaining

Following a victory on the road against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 15, the Vikings are back to the .500 mark at 7-7 overall and are still in the hunt for a postseason berth. But, there is still plenty of work to be done the rest of the regular season and Minnesota fans know all too well that the Vikings will continue to make things interesting over the next few weeks.

Minnesota is indeed still in the race for a playoff spot, and one way to officially accomplish that feat might require the Vikings to have to win out to not have to rely on other teams losing to help their cause while deciding their fate for themselves.

Minnesota Vikings Might Need to Win Out to Reach Postseason

Remaining Schedule

Entering Week 16, there are just three games remaining in the regular season for Minnesota, two of which will come at home against NFC North opponents. The Vikings will have to do all they can to take a majority, if not all, of those final three games.

  • Week 16 vs. Los Angeles Rams
  • Week 17 at Green Bay Packers
  • Week 18 vs. Chicago Bears

At first glance, that three-game stretch looks somewhat daunting, with the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers being two top teams in the conference and NFL in general. But the Rams are going to be coming into Week 16 on a short practice week after playing their Week 15 game on Tuesday while dealing with COVID issues throughout the roster, meaning Los Angeles could be at a disadvantage right out of the gate when arriving in Minnesota. The Packers game in Week 17 will be a tough road contest, but the Vikings have shown the ability to take down Green Bay in the first meeting earlier this year. In the final game, although games against Chicago are always interesting, Minnesota should be able to take that game too.

It may seem like a tall task to win out the rest of the season, but the Vikings could continue to pull together some late-season heroics and somehow find themselves in one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC Playoffs once the regular season concludes. And it might have to come to that point for Minnesota.

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Playoff Picture

Entering Week 16 this weekend, Minnesota is currently in an NFC playoff position, but there are still scenarios that will have to unfold in the final few weeks to come up with a finalized conference postseason schedule.

Following the Week 15 victory, the Vikings are holding onto the seventh seed in the NFC. If the season ended today, which it obviously doesn’t, the Vikings would travel to play the second seed Dallas Cowboys in the opening round of the NFC Playoffs.

As mentioned, however, there are scenarios that need to unfold, and some teams Minnesota needs to drop out of the playoff picture to help its cause in order to return to the playoffs. Other teams such as the New Orleans Saints, Washington Football Team, Philadelphia Eagles, and Atlanta Falcons are also floating around the .500 mark like the Vikings while trying to grab one of the Wild Card spots.

Minnesota’s focus should be taking care of business on its own end of things and not have to rely on other teams to help in grabbing a postseason berth, starting with the Week 16 matchup at home against the Rams.

Playoffs a Realistic Possibility for Vikings

With various scenarios still outstanding in the final three weeks, next comes the question of if the playoffs are a realistic possibility for the Vikings at the end of the day. It will start with how Minnesota does to end the regular season, obviously. If the Vikings win, let’s say, two of the three final games, they should be in a good position to reach the postseason. If they go 1-2 or 0-3 over the next three games, that possibility with diminishing quickly.

According to ESPN’s NFL Football Power Index projections, Minnesota has a 30.7% chance of reaching the playoffs following its Week 15 victory. According to FiveThirtyEight’s projections, the Vikings have a 29% chance of reaching the postseason.

It appears the odds are still going against Minnesota in its hopes of reaching the playoffs in a few short weeks. But there is one way for the Vikings to control their own destiny, and they might have to win out in order to return to the postseason.

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