Path to the Playoffs: Week 12 Edition

The Vikings have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

Let that sink in for a second. Breath it in through your mouth and exhale it through your nose. Savor that statement because if you would have told any analyst that the Vikings would even come close to having a spot along 11 other teams in the playoffs, well… they would have laughed at you. They would have laughed at me. (I predicted the Vikings would be in contention for a playoff spot. Not right about many things, but I was right about that.)

Not many “experts” gave the Vikings a shot before the 2012 season started. The idea was that the Vikings are a rebuilding team with a star player just had his knee rebuilt and a young quarterback in the toughest division in football. These “experts” predicted the Vikings would find themselves in the cellar of the NFC North another year. Many of these “experts” still believe the Vikings have no shot.

I am here to tell you that they most definitely have a shot at the playoffs.

As you all know, the Vikings have a difficult task ahead of them. This year, the NFL wanted to make the month of December one to remember when it created its schedule. The Vikings have four division games in the next six weeks. This gives them the unique opportunity to be, as cliché as it sounds, in complete control of their own destiny. Win those remaining divisional games and they are almost definitely in the playoffs.

This is unlikely. While it would be sensational, the odds of the Vikings beating the Bears and the Packers twice each is somewhat unrealistic. I’m not saying it can’t happen… But let’s just say it would behoove us to look at the other ways the Vikings could make the playoffs.

We’re still six weeks out which means there is a lot that can happen. But it doesn’t hurt to know who we should root for and against every week to give us the best shot at the big game. So, what I would like to do each week until we either have clinched a spot or have been definitely eliminated is look at the playoff picture as it stands and go through game by game in the NFL and establish who we (Vikings fans) want to win.

First, the current NFC playoff picture:

Playoff Picture

  1. Atlanta Falcons (9-1)
  2. San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1)
  3. Green Bay Packers (7-3)
  4. New York Giants (6-4)
  5. Chicago Bears (7-3) Wildcard
  6. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) Wildcard

What We Want: Week 12

Green Bay at NY GiantsGiants win. (Obviously…)

As if you didn’t naturally already, we most definitely want the Packers to lose this weekend against the defending champions. If the Packers lose to the Giants Sunday night and the Vikings beat the Bears the Vikings will lead the NFC North with the #1 spot. Forget turkey, this is all I want for Thanksgiving.

Houston at DetroitHouston win.

As the Lions are not completely out of the playoff picture and the Texans are not in the NFC, it’d benefit the Vikings if the Lions lost this week.

Washington at DallasWashington win.

This is a tough one because while the Cowboys currently are one game ahead of the Redskins and as such are a more immediate contender for a wildcard spot, the Redskins have the tiebreaker over us and we don’t play the Cowboys. Still, the odds that the Redskins rebound from their 4-6 losing record and really make a push isn’t incredibly likely. I’ll be rooting for the Cowboys to lose so they essentially will be removed from the playoff hunt.

Seattle at MiamiMiami win.

The Seahawks will likely be one of our biggest sources of competition for a playoff spot – especially since they would hold a tiebreaker over us. Go Dolphins!

Atlanta at Tampa Bay: Atlanta win.

The Falcons at 9-1 will almost definitely win their division so we don’t really need to worry about them moving forward.  The Buccaneers on the other hand will likely be vying for our wildcard spot. Like the Seahawks, since we’ve lost to the Bucs this season and they would hold a tiebreaker, it’s much better if they just lose. I’ll be rooting for a Matt Ryan rebound this weekend.

St. Louis at ArizonaSt. Louis win.

Realistically, the Rams are no longer in the playoff hunt. The Cardinals, at 4-6, are almost out of the picture but it wouldn’t hurt if they lost this weekend to make our lives a little easier.

San Francisco at New Orleans: San Francisco win.

The 49ers will likely win their division which would take them out of the wildcard hunt. The Saints on the other hand are rebounding fiercely and are right behind us at #9 in the divisional standings challenging us for a wildcard spot. Let’s go Niners.

Carolina at PhiladelphiaCarolina win.

This game really doesn’t have any playoff implications for us as both teams are [almost] definitely out of the picture. But, Philly has the better record (by a game) so let’s pull for the Panthers here.

So, let’s recap. We want the Giants, Texans, Redskins, Dolphins, Falcons, Rams, 49ers and Panthers to win. Or, if you are a glass half-empty type of person, we want the Packers, Lions, Cowboys, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Saints and Eagles to lose.

I’ll be back next week with an updated playoff picture and who our favorite teams should be in Week 13. If I’ve made a mistake (likely) above or you have a different opinion on who we should be cheering for this week, make it known in the comments.

Ultimately though, let’s root for the most important game this weekend… Let’s beat the Bears on Sunday.


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Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson (Founder) is a passionate Viking fan hailing from Sin City, Las Vegas. He can remember, as a child, scraping his knee on the playground and his friends being completely shocked by the purple blood trickling from the wound. When Brett isn't scouring the Internet for some semblance of Vikings news, he enjoys blindly putting money on them to beat whoever their opponent may be, and daydreams about being their next Tight End. Brett graduated from UNLV with a degree in Architecture and specializes in web/graphic design; he hopes to provide this site’s visitors with the best Vikings experience on the net.

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  1. Just a thought for all the readers here at Vikings Territory

    Black Friday happens once a week at Fragile Freds’ house

    Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Go Vikings!!!! …….. Win!!!!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, Ole… and to all the gang here at VT. Love your ladies and little ones, everyone. This is still the greatest country in the world to live!

        1. It’ll be a factor Freds, no doubt. You know our record on grass (No Tomb, dont go there). Biggest factor, besides whether or not Percy can play, will be how much the Bears can run on us. If we keep the run avg. between 2-4 yds. we’ll be in a position to win this game.

  2. bored on a bye week, huh?
    the kool-aid is flowin at brett’s house this thanksgiving
    a sip is ok, but don’t be uncle frank

    happy thanksgiving everyone

    1. I live off the kool-aid.

      Seriously though, you don’t think the Vikings have a “legitimate shot” at the playoffs?

      1. we can make the playoffs, sure, if we split the division games and beat st. louis and houston. easy, right? hmmm

        this year’s team isn’t ready yet to go real far, and will break your heart. we might even sweep the bears if we get to cutler enough, their line is a mess, but as i’ve said here before, i’ll cheer for us to make it in, and look at it as good experience for the future

        vikings 20, bears 17

  3. Brett – not in the category of either a mistake or a difference of opinion, but there is one other scenario to “wish” for. Since we hold the head-to-head advantage over San Fran, we could perhaps hope that Seattle wins and SF loses, with the eventual outcome that Seattle wins the division and we wind up with the same record as San Fran for a wild card spot. Its a longer shot, admittedly, but stranger things have happened.

  4. Along the same lines as Coach’s comment, the Vikes are currently in a 3-way tie for the wild card spot with the Bucs and Seahawks, but having lost head-to-head against both would be the first team eliminated in the tie-breaking process. However, suppose all three teams end up tied with New Orleans catching up, making it a 4-way tie. Now the Vikes have a better shot of winning the tiebreaker by virtue of their conference record. So there may be a benefit to having teams behind us winning.

    Although at this point in the season it’s probably easiest just to cheer for everyone but us to lose.

    1. That makes my head hurt… I agree. Let’s just hope for six straight wins. (Or just one at a time with a win tomorrow morning.)

  5. I just prefer sweeping the Bears and Packers and winning the division outright. what? It could happen

  6. Brett you are using the term legitimate very loosely when you say “Legitimate shot at the playoffs”

  7. Percy out…Cutler in. Well, that ain’t good. Vikes will have to play mistake free, especially on offense, to win. I think I saw the spread was Vikes +6. I would take those points and feel good about it, if I was a bettin’ man.

    1. When I played my bets earlier this week, the game wasn’t on the ticket. Maybe with a more definite injury update it will be now.