The Vikings ‘Magic Number’ Is Insanely Low

Vikings Mission: Eliminate the Primary Foe
Oct 23, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports,

Another week, another Minnesota Vikings win and loss by the Green Bay Packers. That’s become the norm for the last month and a half.

Accordingly, the Vikings 2022 ‘magic number’ has hit a historic threshold, as Minnesota’s new target is five.

What is a magic number? It’s the number of wins for a team or opponents’ losses — combined — needed to win the division (in this case). The Vikings only need to win five games, hope the Packers lose five, or somewhere in between to win the division for the first time since 2017.

The Vikings Top Offensive Performers at Commanders, per PFF
Kirk Cousins

The magic number was seven heading into Week 9, and wouldn’t you know it, the Vikings won over the Washington Commanders while the Packers mind-numbingly lost to the one-win Detroit Lions. The Packers season — and perhaps long-term future — has hit a tailspin.

To make matters worse for the meat-and-cheese-themed team, the schedule doesn’t let up:

  • vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • vs. Tennessee Titans
  • at Philadelphia Eagles
  • at Chicago Bears
  • vs. Los Angeles Rams
  • at Miami Dolphins
  • vs. Minnesota Vikings
  • vs. Detroit Lions

To win the division, Green Bay must hope the Vikings finish 3-6 while they win every game listed above. The Packers need an 8-0 finish and prayer that Minnesota takes a total nosedive.

This is the Vikings remaining docket:

  • at Buffalo Bills
  • vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • vs. New England Patriots
  • vs. New York Jets
  • at Detroit Lions
  • vs. Indianapolis Colts
  • vs. New York Giants
  • at Green Bay Packers
  • at Chicago Bears

Some combination of five Vikings wins or Packers losses in those 17 possibles locks up the NFC North for the Vikings.

The Vikings Playoff Probability Meter: Week 10
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

And mathematics is on the Vikings side. Minnesota holds a 99% chance of reaching the playoffs, plus a 98% of winning the NFC North, according to FiveThirtyEight. Conversely, Green Bay has 5% odds of playing postseason football and just a measly 0.7% chance of ripping the division away from Minnesota.

For perspective, the Vikings have the second-largest lead on a division through nine games of a season in the last 30 years. Only the 2011 San Francisco 49ers (five games) had a bigger lead on their closest division suitor since 1992.

Too, the favorable position for the Vikings nearly mandates one or two home playoff games. U.S. Bank Stadium has hosted just one Vikings playoff game since its erection, the site of the Minneapolis Miracle in January of 2018 when Minnesota knocked off the New Orleans Saints in dramatic fashion.

Overall, jot down the No. 5. That’s how many Vikings wins or Packers losses are needed to cement a home playoff game in two months.

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