Vikings Path to the Playoffs is Downhill, Freshly Paved and Wide Open

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
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The Minnesota Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints, 27-19 on Sunday for their 5th-straight win. Now 6-4, they sit right in the thick of a crowded playoff race. In fact, if the postseason was to start today, the Vikings would be in as the final seed (7) in the NFC.

Minnesota Vikings playoff chances

As of now, the NFC playoff competition falls off a cliff, after you get past the Vikings as the 7th seed. All other teams behind them sit at least 2 games back and have <.500 records. And things appear to be getting worse for the Bucs, Commanders and Falcons… not better.

That’s only part of the reason why they currently have an 84% chance of making the postseason field, which means they have an inside track of being just the 5th team since 1990 to make the playoffs, after starting 0-3.

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But, the playoffs do not start today. Minnesota still has 7 games remaining on the schedule, and about half the league has 8 remaining. So what is the likelihood, when the dust eventually settles on the 2023-24 NFL regular season, that the Vikings are still one of fourteen playoff teams?

Vikings path to playoffs is nicely paved

Well, let’s start with the schedule, which has gotten much easier of late. And guess what? The road to victory, at least for the next few weeks, appears just as freshly freshly paved, swept and also with a slight downhill tilt.

Week 11 – Nov. 19@ Denver Broncos3-5
Week 12 – Nov 27vs. Chicago Bears3-7
Week 13BYE
Week 14 – Dec 10@ Las Vegas Raiders5-5
Note: Schedule subject to change.

The Broncos and Bears are both disasters. If the Vikings were to find a way to the loser’s locker room after either week 11 or 12, they deserve to miss the playoffs anyway. But, should they take care of business, they will be 8-4 going into their bye week, with the very mid (at best) Raiders next on the schedule.

If you could get odds on all of the above games, today, the Vikings would surely be favored in all three. It seems too good to be true and almost too hyperbolic to put in writing… but… realistically, the Minnesota Vikings should go into week 15 of the NFL season 9-4 and on an 8-game winning streak.

Tougher finish

Then, the schedule gets more difficult, once again. Remember, we haven’t played the Detroit Lions yet, who sit atop the North division with a 7-2 record. Both games vs the little brother Lions will be played within 15 days of each other, with a home game vs the Packers smashed in-between.

But first, the Vikings will go to Cincinnati. Sure, Joe Burrow & Co have stumbled through the first half of the season, but we all know the Bengals will be playing their best football, late.

Week 15 – Dec 17@ Cincinnati Bengals5-4
Week 16 – Dec 24vs. Detroit Lions7-2
Week 17 – Dec 31vs. Green Bay Packers3-6
Week 18 – Jan 7@ Detroit Lions7-2
Note: Schedule subject to change.

I refuse to accept that the Vikings will lose two games this season to the Lions, and if they do, then we’ll know our playoff hopes are limited, whether we make the dance or not.

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But even if the Minnesota Vikings loses all of their games vs opponents who currently have >.500 records (Lions x2, Bengals), they’d still finish with 10 wins, which will absolutely get them into the playoff field.

If Kevin O’Connell, Josh Dobbs and the rest of the team at TCO Performance Center wants to prove to the rest of the NFL, and themselves, that they are a legitimate NFC contender, they’ll win the four games remaining on their schedule that should be walkover victories, and maybe another vs the Lions, Bengals or both.

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