Minnesota Vikings Playoffs Scenarios

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

After their defeat on Thanksgiving, the Minnesota Vikings will need some help to make it into the playoffs.

The Minnesota Vikings no longer control their own destiny. In order for the Vikings to make the playoffs, they will either need Detroit to lose at least two games or they will need the wildcard leaders to drop. No matter what, the Vikings will likely need to win at least three more games to even have a chance at 9-7.

With at least six viable teams scratching for a wildcard slot in the NFC, the Vikings are in a tough spot moving forward. However, with a favorable schedule ahead of them, the Vikings still have a chance at the NFC North or a wildcard position.

The final five games

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The Minnesota Vikings will face their toughest test on Thursday Night Football against the Cowboys. Odds are against the Vikings there, but after that the schedule gets much easier.

With a long week to prepare, the Vikings have back to back games against slumping AFC South teams. The Jaguars have been on a steep decline since Blake Bortles’ throwing motion went awry. Meanwhile, the Colts have been an injury factory on defense while boasting an offensive line only comparable to the Vikings. Yet, Andrew Luck can find a way to win on any given Sunday.

Then, the Vikings head to Lambeau Field for an NFC North contest with serious implications. Despite their recent victory, the Packers are undoubtedly in a rut. The Vikings should win this game, but it’s never an easy affair in Green Bay.

Finally, the Vikings take on the Bears led by Matt Barkley at quarterback. For that very reason, the Vikings should rise victorious against a team likely aiming for a high draft pick.

Battle for the NFC North

The Packers, Lions and Vikings are all in the mix to win the NFC North. Since the Lions swept the Vikings, Detroit has to lose two games for the Vikings to make the playoffs. That is if the Vikings win out. If the Vikings lose a game, the Lions will have to lose three and so on. For the Packers to win the division, they would need to beat the Lions and have a same or better record than them.

To retain the NFC North, the Lions simply need to win four games to guarantee their position. That won’t be easy. They have to face the Saints in New Orleans, the Giants in New York, the Cowboys in Dallas and the Packers. More than likely, they will beat the Bears, but every other game on their schedule will be tough. The Packers still have to face the Texans, Seahawks, Bears, Vikings and Lions. With an uphill battle to catch up to the Vikings and Lions, it will be hard for them to make it in even if they win out.

Two NFC East teams hold the NFC wildcard slots

The Giants currently sit comfortably at 8-3, but they have five quite losable games remaining on their schedule. Facing the Steelers, Cowboys, Lions, Eagles and Washington isn’t exactly the way they wanted their season to end. The Giants could easily go 8-8 and miss the playoffs.

Washington holds a half game lead over the Vikings at 6-4-1. Their schedule isn’t a cake walk, but they will be favored in at least three of the games against the Cardinals, Eagles, Panthers, Bears and Giants. If Washington loses one game and the Vikings win out, the Vikings will likely win a playoff spot.

Two NFC South teams are clawing for the wildcard

The Buccaneers quietly have the same record as the Minnesota Vikings. Down the stretch, they have a brutal schedule facing the Saints twice, the Cowboys, the Chargers and the Panthers. However, the Bucs just disposed of the powerful Seahawks so anything is possible.

The Saints are in a tougher spot than the Bucs at 5-6, especially since their defense is so poor. Yet it is not too hard to imagine that their high-powered offense could mow over the Bucs, Cardinals and Lions.

Next: Vikings vs. Cowboys: Optimism vs. Pessimism

There are so many possibilities and so many teams fighting for the wildcard. Winning the NFC North is still the goal for the Minnesota Vikings, but there are several ways they could snatch a wildcard spot. For now, the Vikings are focused on one thing: beating Dallas.