We’re past the halfway point of the 2018 NFL season, which means it’s time to start analyzing playoff scenarios. The Minnesota Vikings are right in the thick of the NFC playoff picture with seven weeks remaining.
Football games will mean just a little bit more from here on out.
The Minnesota Vikings enter a heavy stretch of their schedule this week that will ultimately decide their postseason fate in 2018. Minnesota will play four consecutive opponents, three on the road, that have a real shot at a postseason spot of their own. First, the Vikings will travel to Chicago on Sunday night for a battle with the Bears for the top spot in the NFC North.
ESPN’s Seth Walder tweeted the following graphic Monday morning, detailing the chances each NFC team winds up in each of the six playoff spots.
NFC playoff chances by seed number: pic.twitter.com/SxZdra1lOj
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) November 12, 2018
A few things from the graphic:
- If my math is correct, the Vikings are being given a 57.7% chance to earn any playoff spot.
- This falls in between Chicago (75.3%) and Green Bay (42.6%) among NFC North teams.
- The No. 3 and No. 6 seeds are the most likely spots for both Minnesota and Chicago.
- There’s a higher than 90% chance that the Rams and Saints make up the top two seeds in the NFC.
- ESPN’s analytics don’t have a lot of faith in the NFC East.
It’s not terribly difficult to see why this Sunday’s game is so important. If the Vikings can waltz into Soldier Field and win, they would grab the division lead and likely leapfrog the Bears in the NFC hierarchy.
A loss would give the Bears 1.5-game lead on the NFC North and, given Chicago’s cupcake schedule down the stretch, would create a best-case scenario in which Week 17’s Vikings-Bears contest is a winner-take-all for the NFC North.
Drew’s Team Takes
- The Rams and the Saints are clearly the class of the NFC right now. It’s not close.
- Chicago’s quarterback is still Mitch Trubisky, so I’m very hesitant to buy into the Bears as a serious contender. I would probably change my mind on this if the Bears beat the Vikings on Sunday.
- The Bears have the Lions, Giants, Packers (at home) and 49ers still on their schedule. That sounds like at least three more wins and likely four if we’re counting the Packers game. The other three games include two against the Vikings and the Rams at home. If the Bears steal one against the Vikings, it’s hard to see them winning less than 10 games.
- I’m just going to pencil in Carolina as a Wild Card team right now. Norv Turner has created a player-friendly offense that uses each player’s unique strengths and has guys like Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey experiencing career seasons. Interesting. He never even tried that in Minnesota.
- Washington is…good? I think? The defense is vastly improved from a year ago but the offense doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with the juggernauts. Let’s say they’re good enough to win the NFC East, but that’s not saying a ton.
- Green Bay has two more daunting games on the road against Seattle and Minnesota before a pretty easy finish to the season. If the Packers can win one of those next two tough road games, they’ll stick around and may put together one of those stupid late-season surges to steal a playoff spot and save Mike McCarthy’s job.
- Seattle needs to be talked about more. Sure, they’re 4-5, but their five losses are by a combined 25 points. At this point, the final Wild Card spot looks like a fight between Seattle and the NFC North teams that don’t win the division.
- I suppose Dallas and Philadelphia are in the race for the NFC East assuming Washington stops winning in weird ways. But I’m not putting either one in the Wild Card race at the level of Seattle. The Super Bowl hangover is real in Philly. You really hate to see it.
- Atlanta and Detroit can join Arizona, San Francisco and the New York Giants in the Finished Room. Those teams will not be playing postseason football this season. Vikings fans do not need to worry about these teams.