About this time last week, the Vikings found themselves in a much more favorable playoff situation. We detailed in our Week 13 Edition of this segment Minnesota’s very high probability of making the playoffs if they managed to win their game against the Seahawks. And if the Lions managed to upset Green Bay? Well, then it was almost a done deal.
However, those things did not happen. And while the odds are still in the Vikings favor that they will make the playoffs, things get more complicated (as they always seem to). As of right now, according to the NY Times Playoff Simulator, the Vikings make the playoffs in 85% of [128,000] simulations. They are currently two games ahead of the next best teams not currently in the playoffs. (The Buccaneers and Falcons who are both at 6-6). The Vikings are also still currently tied with the Packers for the division title. However, as we know, Green Bay holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Last week, we outlined who you should root for to give the Vikings the best shot at the most favorable playoff position. Let’s start by taking a look at how that all panned out.
What Happened: Week 13
Seahawks at Vikings: Needed a Vikings win. Vikings lose.
Packers at Lions: Needed a Lions win. Lions lose.
49ers at Bears: Needed a 49ers win. 49ers win!
Jets at Giants: Needed a Jets win. Jets win!
Cardinals at Rams: Needed a Rams win. Rams lose.
Falcons at Buccaneers: Needed a Buccaneers win. Buccaneers win!
Panthers at Saints: Needed a Saints win. Saints lose.
Cowboys at Redskins: Needed a Cowboys win. Cowboys win!
Okay, so we went 4-4. Not too shabby! Of course, the two that we really needed were the Vikings (obviously) and the Lions. However, the Buccaneers managing to beat the Falcons is a good consolation prize considering Atlanta is one of the teams closest to the Vikings for a wildcard spot.
Let’s look at the current playoff picture headed in to Week 14.
- [y] Panthers (12-0-0)
- Cardinals (10-2-0)
- Packers (8-4-0)
- Redskins (5-7-0)
- Vikings (8-4-0)
- Seahawks (7-5-0)
[z] Clinched first-round bye [/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″]
- Bengals (10-2-0)
- Broncos (10-2-0)
- Patriots (10-2-0)
- Colts (6-6-0)
- Chiefs (7-5-0)
- Jets (7-5-0)
[x] Clinched playoff berth [/vc_column][/vc_row]
What We Want: Week 14
Vikings at Cardinals: Vikings Win
Obviously, the Vikings winning Thursday night in Arizona would be a big deal. If Minnesota is somehow able to pull off an upset despite fielding a team without some major contributors on defense, it would push the Vikings odds of making the playoffs to 98%. If they lose, their current 85% chance drops five points to 80%. (That’s not accounting for any other games in Week 14.) It’s not a devastating blow by any means but it’s almost an 18% difference in odds.
Seahawks at Ravens: Ravens Win
This one is pretty straight forward. Obviously, we have an AFC team facing an NFC team who is also fighting for a wild card spot. If Baltimore were to beat Seattle it would be a major upset. But, outside of the Packers game, this is probably the most critical game to watch this week.
Falcons at Panthers: Panthers Win
The Panthers have already clinched their division while Atlanta is still fighting for a wild card spot. We want the rich to get richer in this contest and put Atlanta in a worse position.
Redskins at Bears: *shrug*
This one doesn’t really affect the Vikings too much. Both the Redskins and the Bears are currently 5-7. While the Bears are currently 2 games back from a wild card spot, the Redskins are actually winning their division. (The NFC East really is that horrible.) One way to look at it is to root for the Redskins to win and just have them lock up their division, hoping the rest of the NFC East does poorly and can’t contend for a wild card spot. On the other hand, you could say let’s root for the Bears to win in the case that Washington gets pushed from their division spot and is then in the wild card race. Either way it doesn’t really matter so I wouldn’t expend too much energy here.
49ers at Browns: Browns Win
Not that the 49ers have much of a shot at the playoffs, but if they did somehow manage to win out and the Vikings (*gasp*) managed to not win another game, the 49ers do hold the head-to-head tiebreaker (unbelievable).
Bills at Eagles: Bills Win
The Eagles are currently in the playoff race albeit quite behind at 5-7. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to play it safe and root for an AFC team that has no impact on the NFC Playoffs when possible.
Lions at Rams: Lions Win
If the Lions win, the only way I see it helping us is giving us a better strength of schedule. Though we also played the Rams, we played the Lions twice which would give the strength of schedule just a slightly larger increase. However, both teams are 4-8 and, more or less, out of the playoff picture.
Saints at Buccaneers: Saints Win
I know, it sucks rooting for the Saints to win. But the Buccaneers are right up there with the Falcons when it comes to wildcard challengers. This is really the only game left this week that has any sort of impact on the Vikings playoff odds. When the Saints win (and the Vikings win), the Vikings make the playoffs in >99% of scenarios.
Cowboys at Packers: Cowboys Win
Of course! Obviously, this game matters more to the division race than just making the playoffs. The Vikings and Packers are currently tied for the division. If the Vikings were to upset the Cardinals and the Cowboys were able to do the same to the Packers, the Vikings win the division in 55% of scenarios. If the Packers manage to win, that number drops to 39%. (Even if the Vikings still beat the Cardinals.) The percentages don’t tell you much you already didn’t know, though – we need the Packers to lose. Not only always (for ever and all time) but also the rest of the year and, more immediately, Week 14.
Giants at Dolphins: Dolphins Win
Finally, we have another AFC team vs. and NFC team. The Giants are knee deep in a crawl through the mud to .500 along with the rest of the NFC East. Let’s hope the Dolphins kick them while their down and officially remove them from playoff conversation.
Everybody clear? No? Okay, one more time: We want the Vikings, Ravens, Panthers, Browns, Bills, Lions, Saints, Cowboys and Dolphins to win. If all of this happens the Vikings have a:
- >99% chance of making the playoffs
- 58% chance of winning the division
- 17% chance of a first round bye
- <1% chance of a #1 seed
And just so we can all prep ourselves for the absolute worst case scenario… If everything were to go wrong this weekend and the opposite of everything described above happens, the Vikings would then have a:
- 72% chance of making the playoffs
- 24% chance of winning the division
- <1% chance of a first round bye
- Nonexistent chance of a #1 seed
So, as you can see that’s a pretty big difference in both the odds of making the playoffs as well as the odds of winning the division. Also, despite it already being a long shot, if the Vikings can’t win in Arizona, you can pretty much say goodbye to any hope of a first round bye.
Stay tuned until next week for an update on how we did. In the meantime…
Go Cowboys! (*bursts into flames*)