Packers Pave Playoff Path for Vikings

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The perfect Week 14 for the Minnesota Vikings continued.

In addition to Minnesota surviving and advancing over the Las Vegas Raiders with an MLB-like 3-0 win, the rest of the NFL’s docket was tailor-made for the Vikings.

Packers Pave Playoff Path for Vikings

Down the line, all the teams the Vikings wanted to lose for playoff positioning’s sake — lost.

Packers Pave
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And the faux parlay climaxed on Monday Night Football when New York Giants kicker Randy Bullock banged through a 37-yard game-winning field goal in New Jersey, sending Green Bay to a 6-7 record and a full one-game behind the Vikings in the NFC’s crowded playoff picture.

Minnesota currently holds the No. 6 seed and would travel to Detroit for a playoff game if the tournament began tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Green Bay remains in a positive playoff situation, essentially needing to finish 3-1 in the final four games against a non-daunting schedule: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at Carolina Panthers, at Vikings, vs. Chicago Bears. Should the Packers hit three wins out of the following four, they’ll likely grab a Wildcard spot. Anything less than three wins opens the door for the Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Seattle Seahawks.

Top 15
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How did the Packers’ loss impact the Vikings? Simple — the conference tiebreaker. Green Bay’s loss to New York sunk its NFC record to 4-4, while the Vikings are 6-3 in the NFC. Had the Packers held on over the Giants, they would’ve hit 5-3, just a half-game behind the Vikings. No cigar.

Too, Minnesota downed Green Bay in Week 8 — the game Kirk Cousins was lost for the season — creating turmoil for the Packers’ playoff hopes. Green Bay must defeat the Vikings on New Year’s Eve or run the table otherwise and hope for the best.

Must fix himself
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According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), the Vikings have a 66.4% probability of reaching the postseason. That math was near 50% entering Week 14. Via the same metric, Green Bay has 46.8% odds.

The popular New York Times’ playoff simulator echoes ESPN’s math, plopping Minnesota at 62%, with Green Bay at 50%.

Around the NFL, in the Vikings’ perfect Week 14, the Rams, Lions, Seahawks, and Falcons lost — an exact wishlist for the Vikings and the team’s fans. It could not have played out any better if the primary objective was for Minnesota to win a Wildcard playoff berth or the NFC North.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) comes off the field on fourth down in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 12 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. The Steelers took a 16-10 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Next, the Vikings travel to Cincinnati for a date with an old friend, quarterback Jake Browning. Minnesota discovered Browning via undrafted free agency in 2019, sticking with the purple team until late summer of 2021. He’s the Bengals’ QB1 with Joe Burrow out for the season.

Cincinnati is favored by 3.5 points over Minnesota. A Vikings “upset” would nudge the NYT playoff meter close to 80%.

The Vikings haven’t won a game in Cincinnati since 1992.

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).

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