Updated Playoff Probability for Vikings after Win vs. PIT

Updated Playoff Probability for Vikings after Win vs. PIT
K.J. Osborn

After surviving the Pittsburgh Steelers 4th Quarter onslaught on Thursday Night Football, the Minnesota Vikings now own a 35% probability to reach the playoffs in January.

The Vikings raced to a 29-0 lead in the 3rd Quarter but melted down later in the 2nd Half. Pittsburgh scored at will on the Vikings down the stretch, falling short of an overtime period thanks to a pass breakup by safety Harrison Smith.

If Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth hauled in that pass for a touchdown, Pittsburgh needed a two-point conversion — which they likely would’ve converted — and overtime awaited. But Harrison Smith disagreed with the idea of overtime.

Because of that clutch defensive moment, the Vikings season is saved for another week. If Minnesota fails to reach the wildcard round of the playoffs, the loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 13 will be the finger-pointed culprit. Of course, all losses matter in a playoff chase, yet the collapse at Detroit was the most unforgivable.

So, here’s the deal: Should the Vikings find some winning Monday night voodoo in Week 15 at the Chicago Bears — they won at Soldier Field in 2020 with a depleted team — Mike Zimmer’s team climbs back to 49% odds for reaching the postseason dance. A coinflip. And that’s without any Week 14 dealings from the Washington Football Team, San Francisco 49ers, or Philadelphia Eagles. The race will shake up based on the rest of Week 14.

If the Vikings lose in Chicago, the would-be 49% odds descend to hell known as 12%. In that regard, Vikings-Bears is all-or-nothing for Minnesota’s playoff aspiration — if they don’t plan on beating the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears in the final three weeks.

Washington takes on the Dallas Cowboys this weekend, and the 49ers travel to Cincinnati. If both of those teams lose — that’s actually feasible — the Vikings odds rise to 41% at the end of Week 14. And if Washington and the 49ers lose, plus a Vikings win on Monday Night Football against the Bears, the Vikings are suddenly at 60% for reaching the playoffs.

The moral of the story: The Vikings need help, especially in the next couple of weeks. To be sure, Zimmer’s team could just win all of the next four games, but nobody on the planet feels that will actually occur. The team is too inconsistent. If they did, though, that would be the ticket to middle January.

Otherwise, this is the rule of thumb: The Vikings must win three of the next four games — and they’re probably safe to reach the postseason (unless you believe Washington or Philadelphia will run the table).

Minnesota cannot afford Washington or Philadelphia to get hot and win out. Remember that.

Vikings Remaining Schedule

  • at Chicago
  • vs. Los Angeles Rams
  • at Green Bay
  • vs. Chicago

Washington Remaining Schedule

  • vs. Dallas
  • at Philadelpgia
  • at Dallas
  • vs. Philadelphia
  • at New York Giants

49ers Remaining Schedule

  • at Cincinnati
  • vs. Atlanta
  • at Tennessee
  • vs. Houston
  • at Los Angeles Rams

Eagles Remaining Schedule

  • Bye Week
  • vs. Washington
  • vs. New York Giants
  • at Washington
  • vs. Dallas

In the event the Vikings do finish 3-1 in the next four games, they’d likely be slated for an away playoff game against the Packers, Buccaneers, or Cardinals.

You can tweak and experiment with all playoff scenarios here.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).