Vikings Have Pretty Simple Assignment to Reach Playoffs

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Bad. Good. Bad. We’ll see.

That’s the Minnesota Vikings’ 2023 spectacle to date, starting the season with a 1-4 record, experiencing reinvigoration to the tune of a 6-4 record in mid-November — and now losers of two straight against the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.

Vikings Have Pretty Simple Assignment to Reach Playoffs

It’s been a ride, and now the purple team must find a positive burst during the remainder of the season to reach the postseason. At the moment, the Vikings have a 58.5% probability of reaching the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

Turnover Woes
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

And while the playoffs felt like a cruel joke after Week 5 when Justin Jefferson fell injured and hopped on injured reserve, the January afterparty is a real possibility if the Vikings finish the season with a winning record.

In fact, that’s “all” they need in the final five games: A 3-2 record.

Have Pretty Simple
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

This is the Vikings’ remaining schedule:

  • Week 13: Bye
  • Week 14: at Las Vegas Raiders
  • Week 15: at Cincinnati Bengals
  • Week 16: vs. Detroit Lions
  • Week 17: vs. Green Bay Packers
  • Week 18: at Detroit Lions

Here’s the secret — if you, the Vikings fan, can find three wins in that fivesome, the club will reach the playoffs, albeit as a wildcard and on tap for a road postseason affair. Finishing 2023 with a 3-2 record the rest of the way will likely result in a postseason date with the Detroit Lions or San Francisco 49ers.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On the other hand, anything less per win percentage — so, 2-3 or 1-4 — will require the dreaded scoreboard watching. The Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams are the teams nipping at the Vikings’ heels, with side dishes of the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers saved their season on Thanksgiving by embarrassing the Lions on the road and now have a rejuvenated outlook to reach the postseason tournament. Green Bay plays Kansas City this weekend, but the cheesy team has a cakewalk schedule after that.

The Rams are an outside threat, and if Minnesota collapses, Los Angeles could slip in the backdoor. The Falcons and Saints aren’t dire threats because the Vikings own playoff tiebreakers. For the Buccaneers, well, they beat the Vikings in Week 1, so if they become frisky and win several games, they could, in theory, catch Minnesota from behind.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

But the mission statement is clear by the numbers. The Vikings have five games left. If they win three, they’ll play postseason football. Losing three, however, will require the Packers and Rams, for example, to tumble.

The Vikings’ life would’ve been so much easier if they found a way to topple the Bears at home. But no cigar.

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