Cross your fingers, knock on wood, say a prayer, wish upon a star. Whatever you do, send positive vibes to the Minnesota Vikings this week. They’ll play the Arizona Cardinals this Thursday, likely move to 8-5 without four of their defensive starters available for the game, and prepare for a brutal three-game stretch to end the regular season. If they want to make the playoffs, the Vikings will need to win at least nine games by year’s end.
While 10, 11, or even 12 would be ideal, nine victories almost ensures Mike Zimmer’s team sneaks into the postseason as a Wild Card contender. After tomorrow’s matchup, they’ll host the Bears and Giants before a crucial Week 17 game at Lambeau Field, which could very well decide their playoff fate and determine the winner of the NFC North. But if you’re the Vikings, who would you rather play come January?
Win the division, and they’d enter the playoffs as the NFC’s third seed. Based on ESPN’s projection models (adjusted for win percentage), the third seed would host the Seattle Seahawks in the first round; definitely not an opponent the Vikings want to meet again this season. Finish second in the division, and the Vikings (fifth seed) would travel to play the winner of the NFC East, which has been lackluster as a whole for the majority of the year.
There’s a few ways the rest of the regular season can play out, and all but one guarantees the Vikings a shot at the playoffs. The question is, who would you rather see the team play on the road to Super Bowl 50?