The (2-8-1) Minnesota Vikings’ playoff chances are gone at this point in the season. For Vikings fans, this is about the time to root for losses so the team can get the best draft pick possible.
But, I think there are still reasons to try and win ball games. The tie against Green Bay was a killer for the Packers’ playoff chances. So was a schedule that included three division games when Aaron Rodgers was sidelined by injury. Nonetheless, when you look at the schedule up ahead for Minnesota there are opportunities to keep playing spoiler.
This Sunday is the first chance for the Vikings to take out division rival Chicago Bears who are sitting at 6-5 and currently holding the 9th seed, which leaves them out of the playoffs if the season were to end today. If the Bears have ambitions of making the playoffs they need to take care of business in Minnesota after Detroit’s win over Green Bay on Thanksgiving. If the Vikings beat the Bears it’s unlikely they can make the playoffs with a terrible defense and a bad run since their fast start to the season.
Considering the way the Vikings looked against Green Bay in the first half Sunday, it’s possible the Vikings upset the Bears. Remember in week 2 when Minnesota blew a lead in the 4th quarter and the Bears won by one? This is a revenge game for the Vikings and a chance to spoil playoff hopes.
Next week, Minnesota heads to Baltimore to take on the Ravens who hold the last AFC wild card spot at the moment with a one win lead on the rest of the teams in the hunt. The Ravens need to win every game they can with teams nipping at their heals. Here come the Vikings, a team with nothing to play for. This is a tough game for the Vikings to win but if victorious it can stir up the AFC pot and make things interesting for us Vikings fans who have to sit and watch the rest of the season unfold without a horse in the race.
The Bengals will be Vikings fans next week and hope the Ravens can slip up so they can take the AFC North. Then in week 16 guess who the Bengals play at home? The Minnesota Vikings. You can’t script this stuff, the AFC Wild Card and North division will hinge on the Bengals and Ravens taking care of business at home against the Vikings. Hence, the opportunity for the Vikings to play spoiler the rest of the season.
Between the Ravens and Bengals games lies the (6-5) Philadelphia Eagles @ Minnesota in week 15. The Eagles are in a different situation than the Ravens and Bengals: they aren’t in the playoffs if they started today. They are behind the Lions and Cardinals for the last wild card spot in the NFC and behind the Cowboys in the NFC East. This game can crush the Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs depending on how their week 13 matchups against the Cardinals and Lions go. This game can knock the Eagles out of playoff contention. We all know Cowboys fans will be pulling for Minnesota so they can take control of their NFC East division.
Finally, the Detroit Lions week 17 matchup at home. Before the season began Vikings fans circled this date on their calenders because it could have been an elimination game for a playoff berth. Clearly this is not the case but the Lions will have a lot to play for in that matchup. They are fighting for the division and wild card spots at the moment. Depending on the way the next three game play out for Detroit this game can be huge for them. Wouldn’t it be sweet if the Vikings were the reason the Lions miss the playoffs?
The best part about this situation is the pure fact that if the Vikings lose any of these games it doesn’t matter. Obviously ruining the Lions’ and Bears’ seasons are top priority for the Vikings, but there is a chance to send some teams out to buy the popcorn for us to share on the couch for the playoffs.
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