With Three Games Left, Vikings Still Technically in Playoff Picture: What Would It Take To Get Into The Playoffs?
Ok, so let me preface this all by saying that this is all highly unlikely. That said, there is still mathematically a chance the Minnesota Vikings could make the playoffs this year. What all would it take to make that happen? Quite a bit. Kevin Cusick of the Pioneer Press broke down all the details, and here is a summary of what he came up with:
While how the team finishes the season plays a role, the Vikings by no means control their destiny when it comes to playoff hopes. The part the team has some influence in is what record they end the regular season with. In order to even have a chance, Minnesota must win their final three games. This includes two road games (Lions in Detroit for week 15 and Dolphins in Miami for week 16) and a season finale at TCF Bank Stadium against the lowly Chicago Bears.
Step 1) So, the first step to getting into the playoffs is winning out and ending the season 9-7.
Step 2) The second step is for either the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys to lose all three of their remaining games. The Eagles and Cowboys play each other next Sunday night, giving one of those teams a sure-fire start to that three-game losing skid that would need to happen. From there, the Eagles play the Redskins and the Giants. The Cowboys play the Colts and the Redskins.
Those matchups don't look extremely favorable for the Vikings, but if I had to pick a team to lose out, I would guess the Eagles are more likely to sputter out.
Step 3) The Seattle Seahawks need to lose out. They play the 49ers in Seattle, Cardinals in Arizona, and Rams in Seattle. All three of these games are tough NFC West matchups; but the Seahawks are hard to beat in Seattle, which is where two of their three final games are.
Step 4) The 49ers need to win in week 15 against the Seahawks (as noted above) and week 16 against the Chargers, but lose against the Cardinals week 17.
Step 5) While this isn't a required step, the Rams winning their final three games (Cardinals week 15, Giants week 16, Seahawks week 17) helps the Vikings chances. This creates some tiebreaker scenarios that would allow the Vikings to sneak in as the bottom seed in the playoffs.
One other influencing factor is that the Lions and Packers get at least one more victory this season. This will ensure the Vikings don't end up tied with either of these teams (both of which would go 9-7 if they lost all of their remaining games). If the Vikings ended up tied with either of these teams, it's all over.
Got all that? It's quite a bit to wrap your head around. Basically speaking, there's a chance, but a lot needs to happen in order for the Vikings to make a surprise appearance in the playoffs this season. It's important to remember that virtually nobody had them picked to show up in the playoffs this season, so that's already something, right?
If you want to play around with playoff scenarios yourself, ESPN has this cool tool to predict playoff teams and seeding.