Familiar Foe Waiting to Steal Vikings’ Playoff Spot

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Did you enjoy how the Detroit Lions lost on Thanksgiving, perhaps providing the Minnesota Vikings a glimmer of hope to win the NFC North?

Well, after the Vikings later lost at home to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, Vikings fans — knowing what they do now about the MNF loss — should’ve rested on their laurels and preferred the Green Bay Packers to lose at Detroit.

Familiar Foe Waiting to Steal Vikings’ Playoff Spot

Most Vikings loyalists assumed Minnesota would beat a bad team in the Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. However, that did not occur, and now the Packers’ win on Thanksgiving is problematic — Jordan Love and Co. are waiting to steal the Vikings’ playoff spot.

Familiar Foe Waiting
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Green Bay has won three of its last four games, and after it gets over the hump of the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, has an incredibly easy schedule down the stretch. If Minnesota isn’t careful, the Packers will snatch their postseason spot.

For now, the Vikings have a 58.5% probability of reaching the playoffs per ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). Green Bay is at 46.8%. If the Packers want to achieve the postseason, they’ll probably have to defeat the Vikings on New Year’s Eve in Minneapolis. And if Minnesota can lose to Chicago at home, it can lose to Green Bay, rest assured.

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In fact, CBS Sports predicted this week that the Packers — not the Vikings — will reach the January tournament. Its playoff projection software is evidently different than ESPN’s and everyone else’s, and it believes Matt LaFleur’s team can shimmy into the postseason.

CBS Sports‘ John Breech explained, “The biggest winner of our projection this week is the Green Bay Packers, who are now expected to steal the final NFC wild-card spot from the Vikings. According to the computer, it’s going to be a dogfight for the final playoff spot with the Packers being given a 51.7% chance of making the playoffs while the Vikings are sitting right behind them at 49.4%.”

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The Packers’ 2023 campaign is eerily similar to 2022, when Aaron Rodgers and friends struggled in October but then got hot in November and December and nearly reached the playoffs. This go-round, Rodgers is injured in New York while Love is directing traffic, but the in-season turnaround setup is damn near indistinguishable.

“One big thing working in the Packers’ favor is that they have the third-easiest remaining strength of schedule in the NFL at .391 while Minnesota’s is .554,” Breech concluded.

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All the Vikings have to do via spoiling the Packers’ momentum is win games. If Minnesota finishes 3-2 in the next five games, it is close to a mathematical lock for the playoffs. Anything less than 3-2, though, opens the door for the Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Lions’ loss on Thanksgiving was advantageous in the moment for Minnesota’s NFC North dreams, but after the Vikings clumsily lost to the Bears, the Packers’ Turkey Day dub enhanced their odds to sneak behind the Vikings and swipe a postseason adventure.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.