The Minnesota Vikings, after all they’ve been through this year, control their destiny in the jam-packed NFC playoff picture.
Minnesota started their improbable five-game winning streak the week after Justin Jefferson, the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, was put on IR. Paired with their starting quarterback Kirk Cousins tearing his Achilles three weeks later, the fact the Vikings were able to pull any of that off is a miracle.
Coming off back-to-back losses, the Vikings find themselves at 6-6 and have every chance to prove they belong in the playoffs, and if there’s some divine power out there that really likes the Vikings, they can still win the division.
Getting closer but a lot can still happen. pic.twitter.com/XyvUcK4FxB
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2023
How the Minnesota Vikings Can Get to the Playoffs
Currently, the sixth seed and ahead of the log jam of the three other 6-6 teams due to tiebreakers (which will be explained later), the most obvious way to make the playoffs is to win out.
They have two games coming up against AFC opponents starting backup quarterbacks in the Raiders and Bengals, which aren’t the most important for tiebreakers, but still very much matter. The Vikings will probably be favored in both these games, and if they take care of business, they’ll be in a really good spot to finish the regular season.
The last three games of the year are all divisional matchups between the Lions (twice) and the Packers. Because of the 24-10 victory over Green Bay earlier in the year, the Vikings are seeded higher. Head-to-head victories are the number one tiebreaker when teams are seeded.
If the Vikings can beat the Packers again, they’ll claim the most important tiebreaker. If they lose to Green Bay, the next tiebreaker is the record within the division. Minnesota is 2-1 and Green Bay is 2-2. Green Bay still has Chicago to play again as it’s last divisional game besides Minnesota.
Now for the tiebreakers against the Rams and Seahawks. The third tiebreaker is “best won-lost-tied percentage in common games” meaning who’s won the most games against teams that everyone in the tiebreaker has played.
The Seahawks have beaten the Lions and Panthers, and have lost to the 49ers and Bengals with Seattle playing another game against San Francisco. They also play the Eagles, who defeated Minnesota in week two.
Not only are the Lions games important because of the slim chance at the division, but losing those games gives Seattle the tiebreaker, assuming they stay at the same record.
The Rams have lost to San Francisco once and play them again in Week 18, and have lost to the Bengals, Eagles, and Packers. If the Vikings can beat Cincinnati and Green Bay again, the Rams should be no concern.
Hopefully, it won’t come down to these tiebreakers, and the Vikings have total control of their destiny, which is the best spot to be in.
Final Stretch of Games
The Packers finish out the regular season In New York to face the Giants, host the Buccaneers, go to Carolina, head to Minnesota for Sunday Night Football (for now, at least), and finish hosting the Bears.
Seattle goes to San Francisco, hosts the Eagles on Monday Night Football, head down to Tennessee, host the Steelers, and head to Arizona for the finale.
The Rams travel to Baltimore, host the Commanders, host the Saints on a short week Thursday, and then go to New York and San Francisco to play the Giants and 49ers to finish the regular season.
The complicated answer on how the Minnesota Vikings can get to the playoffs is certain scenarios where those teams lose enough games mixed with the Vikings winning the right ones. The easy answer is the Minnesota Vikings win, so nobody has to worry about these dumb tiebreakers.