Suddenly, the Vikings Have a Magic Number.
Don’t look now, but thanks to a rocky eight-game patch from the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings are in fortuitous shape.
Of course, most of Minnesota’s current standing is thanks to its own 6-1 record, the franchise’s best start to a season through seven games since 2009.
But because the Vikings have won five straight games and the Packers have lost four consecutive battles, Minnesota now has a “magic number.”
Any combination of Vikings wins and Packers losses sits at seven — and Minnesota will win the NFC North. Green Bay seized the division in 2019, 2020, and 2021, while the Bears kept the seat warm during the 2018 campaign. The Vikings last won the NFC North in 2017, a season where they damn near reached a Super Bowl.
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According to FiveThirtyEight, the Vikings have a 96% chance of reaching the postseason and a 93% probability of winning the division. Even if the Vikings buffoonishly lost three games starting in Week 9, the sky wouldn’t quite fall. That’s how far Kevin O’Connell’s team has extended an early-season cushion.
Minnesota can also just blow Green Bay off the map and refuse to lose, further increasing the chances of one or two home playoff games. That’s the goal. But the current situation is highly advantageous for Minnesota after toppling the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, and Arizona Cardinals in the last six weeks.
And with the magic number marinating at seven, these are the Packers next five opponents:
- at Detroit Lions
- vs. Dallas Cowboys
- vs. Tennessee Titans
- at Philadelphia Eagles
- at Chicago Bears
These are the Vikings next five games:
- at Washington Commanders
- at Buffalo Bills
- vs. Dallas Cowboys
- vs. New England Patriots
- vs. New York Jets
Two home games and three away games for the Packers, plus the inverse for the Vikings, formulate the next combined 10 games between the teams. If you can find some combination of seven Vikings wins and Packers losses through the week after Thanksgiving, that will have meant O’Connell wrapped up the division at a showstopping rate.
The Vikings travel to Green Bay in Week 17 but based on how both teams are performing, there’s a decent chance that game doesn’t decide the NFC North — as almost every Vikings fan in the world would’ve surmised if told Minnesota would indeed take the division in 2022.
But first, Minnesota heads to Washington, where it’ll see a familiar QB1 in Taylor Heinicke. The Commanders have quietly won three straight games and are nibbling at a playoff berth sans Carson Wentz. When Kirk Cousins steps onto FedEx Field, it’ll be his first experience as a visiting quarterback.
The Vikings are favored by 3.5 points in Washington to continue chipping away at the newfound magic number.
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).