Here’s What the Vikings Need to Get in Playoffs

Justin Jefferson Continues
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have a very simple mission statement — a hard cutoff — for the rest of the 2023 regular season.

Win more games than you lose.

Here’s What the Vikings Need to Get in Playoffs

The team has five games remaining, and a 3-2 record the rest of the way would make the club a virtual lock for the postseason. Anything less — so, 2-3 — won’t cut it.

Need to Get in
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Week 13, the Vikings’ bye week, played out horribly for Minnesota. Aside from a Dallas Cowboys win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football, it could not have gone worse for the Vikings. The Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Detroit Lions won their respective matchups, and the Vikings would’ve enjoyed all those teams losing. But they did not.

In fact, without even playing, the Vikings’ playoff probability, according to the New York Times postseason simulator, fell by 10%. Minnesota entered Sunday with a 51% chance of reaching the playoffs, and by midnight, the math settled at 41%. Ay caramba.

Silly Narrative Laughable
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The Vikings have three NFC games remaining and two AFC showdowns. By the numbers, it would be better for Minnesota to win all three NFC games, but toppling the Lions twice seems unlikely. Therefore, no matter how the Vikings get it, a 3-2 record is essentially required to scoot into the playoff tournament.

Meanwhile, the Vikings’ most hated foe, the Green Bay Packers, have the same stakes — if that can believed. After Kevin O’Connell’s team downed the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 8 — the game when Kirk Cousins was lost for the season — Green Bay was doomed, hitting the NFC’s bottom tier with a 2-5 record.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a pass against Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) during their football game Sunday, October 29, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Minnesota defeated Green Bay 24-10. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Green Bay responded by winning four of its next five games and now holds the same record as Minnesota, 6-6. What a world.

Here’s the Vikings’ remaining schedule:

  • 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

Find a 3-2 win-loss mark in those five contests, and you will almost certainly find the Vikings in playoffs. Yet, after the horrid Week 13 results for Minnesota — again, without even playing — a 2-3 record probably won’t even cause scoreboard-watching in Week 18. A 2-3 record will likely condemn Minnesota to an early offseason.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Thankfully for their sake, the team’s best player will return in Week 14. Justin Jefferson missed seven games with a hamstring injury, and the Vikings finished 5-2 during that stretch, an impressive mark, to be sure. Now, Minnesota needs Jefferson to put the squad on its shoulders and win three games in the next five weeks.

Otherwise, Minnesota will finish 8-9 or so with the 15th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, or something similar.

Minnesota is favored by 2.5 points to take down the Raiders on the road this weekend.

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