How the Minnesota Vikings can Make the Playoffs

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

Despite a horrid ending to a promising beginning of the season, the Minnesota Vikings are still in the NFC playoff picture.

A lot of things will have to go their way, but the Minnesota Vikings have a solid shot at making the post season. How successful they would/would not be in the playoffs is not the subject of this story.

Of course, the Vikings’ chances are very low. According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings only have a 2.3 percent chance to enter the playoffs. To make it to the post season for the second time in a row, the Vikings must rely on four main factors:

Minnesota Vikings must win out

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Despite their dismal chances, the Vikings have two favorable match ups coming up. Of course, the Packers in all likelihood will beat the Vikings, but their familiarity and Mike Zimmer’s success against Green Bay only work to benefit the Vikings.

Green Bay is undoubtedly on a hot streak while Minnesota is on a downward spiral. Yet, as of late, Aaron Rodgers has not had much success against the Vikings. Over the last three games, Rodgers is throwing 56 percent, and he averages just over one touchdown, just under one interception, four sacks and an ugly 79.16 passer rating per game.

All of those numbers are well below Rodgers’ career averages. Zimmer specializes in getting Rodgers out of rhythm, but it is ponderous to predict any Viking victory after the hopeless loss to the Colts last week.

Don’t forget about the week 17 match up against the Bears, either. Matt Barkley and company almost beat the Packers if it weren’t for another heroic 60+ yard throw from Rodgers late in the game. Barkley is playing surprisingly well, and the Bears are heating up at the worst possible time for the Vikings. Plus, Vikings fans have no grounds to expect a win here after the Bears beat them earlier in the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers must lose out

The Buccaneers have to lose to both the Saints and Panthers for the Vikings to make the playoffs. Tampa Bay will likely be favored to win both of these games. Famously, last year they blew it down the stretch with the playoffs in their sights. This year, however, the Bucs are a different team. For one, their defense is playing much better. Plus, wide receiver Mike Evans has proven himself unguardable down the stretch.

Still, the Saints have the best offensive numbers in the league, so anything can happen there. On top of that, the Panthers just took out the playoff-hopeful Washington squad, and Cam Newton is 8-3 against the Bucs.

Detroit Lions must win one game

Sadly, this seems unlikely. While the Lions technically have a 71.1 percent chance of making the playoffs, the have to face the Cowboys and the Packers. Matthew Stafford has proven his ability to win close games, so it seems plausible that they win one of these two. Yet, with the Cowboys and Packers as hot as they are, this will be a tough assignment for Detroit.

Washington must lose one game

Washington plays the Bears and the Giants down the stretch. The Bears, as previously stated, are starting to look better than their record suggests. Yet, to hope that they can exchange punches with one of the leagues highest powered offenses seems like a stretch.

The Giants, on the other hand, have ended their season looking like they boast on of the league’s best defenses. Meanwhile, despite their ugly offense, they have that big play ability at any point in games with Odell Beckham Jr.’s abilities after the catch.

Next: Wolves are Turning the Corner

If the Minnesota Vikings do make the playoffs, will they really be able to make an impact? As of now, it doesn’t appear that way. However, uglier teams, a la the 2007 and 2011 Giants have gotten hot at just the right time. First, the Vikings need to focus on winning in Green Bay.