Can Vikings Really Steal #1 Seed in NFC

Photo: Corey Perrine - Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings secured the 2022-23 NFC North crown weeks ago, cementing themselves into the upcoming playoff bracket. But how many home games they get and the quality of opponent they will face is yet to be determined.

More recently even, a once dead question has risen from the ashes. With Jalen Hurts injured and unlikely to play again this week, could the (12-3) Vikings steal the NFC’s #1 seed from the (13-2) Philadelphia Eagles in the final two weeks of the season?

Battle for NFC Supremacy

For that to happen, the Vikings would have to win both of their next two games and the Eagles would have to lose both of theirs.

The Eagles have only lost two games all season and now we’re asking them to lose two straight to end the year? On top of that, the Vikings must beat the Packers and Bears on the road; something they have never done late in the season.

Hyperbole? Maybe. But what part of the Vikings’ 2022-23 season hasn’t been pulled from some tall tale Hollywood script? For that reason alone, it’s worth taking a deeper dive into what exactly the purple are up against.

Week 17: Saints @ Eagles (12:00 PM)

The Eagles are -5.5 point favorites to beat the Saints in Philly on Sunday (noon kickoff). Jalen Hurts is doubtful to play. He practiced for the first time in two weeks on Thursday and Friday but insiders expect Gardner Minshew to start under center for the 2nd-straight game.

Offense wasn’t the problem last week when the Eagles lost to the Cowboys in a 40-34 shootout but Minshew wasn’t great, finishing 22/40 for 355 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Philadelphia has a better football team than New Orleans but let’s be real. They become much more beatable without their MVP candidate quarterback. Sportsbooks can run up the spread on this game all they want but Gardner Minshew makes the Eagles just another team.

Week 17: Vikings @ Packers (3:25 PM)

Believe it or not, the (12-3) Minnesota Vikings are +3.5 point underdogs vs the (7-8) Green Bay Packers this weekend. Call it the Aaron Rodgers effect or late season Lambeau Field advantage if you want but if I’m Kevin O’Connell, I call it disrespect.

Still, as Minnesota sports fans we know better than to think the Vikings are going to walk into Green Bay and hang an easy W on a Packers team that must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

We should know if the NFC’s #1 seed is still in play by the time this game starts but the San Francisco 49ers are biting at the Vikings’ heels for the #2 seed. That makes Eagles vs Saints irrelevant as to who takes the field for the purple and gold.

Week 18 Outlook

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings will play in Chicago vs the Bears next week. Even given their history at Soldier Field, they’ll be favorites as long as starters play.

Meanwhile, the Eagles will play at home vs the (8-6-1) New York Giants, who are smack dab in the middle of the NFC Wildcard race. Both of Philly’s losses this season were against division rivals (Cowboys, Commanders).

Again, week 18 won’t matter if the Minshew-led Eagles beat the Saints tomorrow. If this game matters, however, I’d expect Hurts to play.

What do prediction models and sportsbooks say?

FiveThirtyEight.com doesn’t like the odds of the Vikings stealing the #1 seed from the Eagles. According to their prediction model, the Vikings have just a 2% chance of winning the NFC, heading into week 17. The Eagles have a 94% chance. Should Philly lose on Sunday and Minnesota win, however, those odds will change drastically.

The sportsbooks (FanDuel.com) see a heist of the NFC’s #1 seed as nearly impossible as well, giving the Vikings +2700 odds to make it happen. That’s $100 to win $2,700. The Eagles, meanwhile, are -1450 to keep the #1 seed. That’s $1,450 to win $100. Even if you don’t believe in miracles, this seems worth betting Vikings. Wow.

Again, everything about the Minnesota Vikings 2022-23 season has been impossible. See you at your favorite betting site. Let’s turn miracles into cash.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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