NFC North is Vikings’ for the Taking

PHOTO: CARLOS GONZALEZ - STAR TRIBUNE

The Minnesota Vikings did not play this week but that didn’t stop them from winning. While they were recouping, vacationing or even being arrested, the rest of the NFC North was losing.

Most notably the Green Bay Packers, who lost to the lowly Washington Commanders on Sunday, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score or finishing moments might suggest. The loss drops Green Bay to 3-4 and puts them in a world of hurt in the NFC Playoff picture.

Let’s get back to the Vikings, who at 5-1 on the season, are now three games ahead of their closest competitor in the NFC North. To say Minnesota is firmly in the division driver’s seat would be an understatement. At this point, it’d be tough for the Vikings to misplay their way out of the playoffs.

Updated Playoff/Division Projections

According to FiveThirtyEight‘s updated projections after the Packers’ loss on Sunday, the Vikings have a 93% chance of making the NFC Playoff field. That comes with an 89% chance at winning the North and a 10% chance of getting a bye in the first round. They have the purple finishing 12-5.

The Packers are another story. FiveThirtyEight’s algorithm has Aaron Rodgers & Co finishing the year 8-9. Their playoff odds are just 27%. Chances of winning the division, just 9%.

Could a team other than the Green Bay Packers challenge the Minnesota Vikings for NFC North supremacy? Unlikely. The Chicago Bears play on Sunday night vs the New England Patriots. They’re searching for their 3rd win of the season. The Detroit Lions lost again on Sunday and dropped to 1-5 on the season.

Upcoming Schedule

Worried about the Vikings’ upcoming schedule? I mean, they have played a lot of bad teams early this season. Well, don’t. Minnesota’s next two opponents, Arizona and Washington, are both sub-.500 teams. In all reality, the Vikings should be favored in 9 of their final 11 matchups.

Maybe 10 of 11, depending on how you view the Cowboys (4-2), Jets (4-2) and Giants (6-1) playing at US Bank Stadium. Both New York teams have started the season surprisingly well. But do you expect either of them to be favored in Minneapolis six or nine weeks from now? I can’t.

  • Wk 8: Cardinals (3-4)
  • Wk 9: @ Commanders (3-4)
  • Wk 10: @ Bills (5-1)
  • Wk 11: Cowboys (5-2)
  • Wk 12: Patriots (3-3)
  • Wk 13: Jets (4-2)
  • Wk 14: @ Lions (1-5)
  • Wk 15: Colts (3-3-1)
  • Wk 16: Giants (6-1)
  • Wk 17: @ Packers (3-4)
  • Wk 18: @ Bears (2-4)

Of course, none of these facts will crown the Minnesota Vikings as anything. They still have to go out and beat teams that they should beat, through the rest of the season. But one thing is for sure. The NFC North is the Vikings’ to lose.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan