Vikings Can Still Host Home Playoff Game

Coach Power
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings began the 2023 campaign with high hopes of repeating as division champions for the first time since 2008-2009 — and then arrived at a 1-4 record after Week 5.

Fast forward two months, and Minnesota has tallied a 6-2 record, largely without Justin Jefferson, fundamentally turning its season around, even without quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Vikings Can Still Host Home Playoff Game

In a rollercoaster season, stuffed to the gills with momentum swings, the Vikings can still win the NFC North, if that can be believed.

A New Wrinkle
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For starters, the blueprint is simple to keep faith regarding a division title: Minnesota must remain within two games of the Detroit Lions by Christmas Eve. If that happens, the Vikings can decide if they win the NFC North. Take it to the bank; those are the stakes. Minnesota and Detroit meet twice in the season’s final three games, and if the Vikings are behind the Lions by two games or less on Christmas Eve, they can defeat the Lions twice in three weekends to repeat at NFC North champs and host a home playoff game the weekend of January 13th.

This is the Lions’ remaining schedule for context:

  • vs. Denver Broncos
  • at Minnesota Vikings
  • at Dallas Cowboys
  • vs. Minnesota Vikings
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports.

And the Vikings’ agenda:

  • at Cincinnati Bengals
  • vs. Detroit Lions
  • vs. Green Bay Packers
  • at Detroit Lions

There’s a little leeway, albeit unlikely, for the Vikings to split the two Lions games and still win the NFC North, but that would involve the Vikings beating the Bengals + Packers while hoping Detroit dropped contests to the Broncos and Cowboys.

Warm Up to Nick
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

And, of course, per a division tiebreaker, a Vikings’ win over the Packers on New Year’s Eve will be vital. But because the Lions lost twice since Thanksgiving to the Packers and Bears, Detroit totally opened the door to coughing away a once-runaway NFC North chip.

Like the Vikings, the Lions can “control their destiny,” too, merely needing to win and eventually take the division. Yet, losses to Green Bay and Chicago in the last 19 days have complicated their lives. There’s just no other way around it.

Vikings Can Still Host
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Had the Vikings defeated the Bears on Monday Night Football before the bye week, they would have breathing room, as well. No luck.

Overall, the blueprint is simple: The Vikings must win to capture the NFC North, or if it loses to Cincinnati, for example, ask the Lions to drop a game to the Broncos or Cowboys. Staying within two games of the Lions until the teams’ first meeting on December 24th is the recipe.

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