This Is the Vikings’ Hail Mary Way to Get in Playoffs

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Wipe that smile off your face; there’s a way.

The Minnesota Vikings playoff probability once hovered around 80%, simpler times when the club was 6-4 during Joshua Dobbs Mania. But the team fired up a 1-5 record since defeating the New Orleans Saints and now own a measly 3% chance to reach the playoff afterparty.

This Is the Vikings’ Hail Mary Way to Get in Playoffs

The purple team does have a path, though, requiring crossing fingers, some prayers, and generalized unlikelihoods.

Hail Mary Way
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Entering Week 18, these teams have clinched playoff berths:

  • San Francisco 49ers (1-seed)
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Detroit Lions (3-seed)
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Los Angeles Rams

And these teams are in the hunt:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Minnesota Vikings

Three teams will vie for the NFC South this weekend, and Minnesota obviously can’t win that. However, with four events occurring on Sunday, the Vikings could slip in the playoff backdoor.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Here’s the Vikings’ only playoff scenario, albeit a total Hail Mary:

  • MIN over DET -and-
  • CHI over GB -and-
  • ARI over SEA -and-
  • CAR over TB -or- ATL over NO

The path is terribly unlikely but also not utterly impossible. The hardest part — arguably — is the Vikings chipping off the Lions, a team claiming it won’t rest any starters in Week 18. That evidently isn’t the Dan Campbell way.

Meanwhile, the Packers are in an eerie familiar situation. All they must do is win over the Bears to hit the postseason — the same stakes one year ago when Green Bay lost at home to the Lions, canceling a postseason trip in Aaron Rodgers’ final year at the helm.

Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports.

The Cardinals played well last weekend and could feasibly knock off the reeling Seahawks. Seattle will need to beat Arizona and ask for a Packers loss.

Finally, of the two NFC South matchups, the Vikings need one item to happen: either a Buccaneers or Saints loss. Then, Kevin O’Connell’s team would waddle into the playoffs as the seventh seed.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings play in the early afternoon window on Sunday, and while they’re squaring off against Detroit, the NFC South games coincide. If Tampa Bay or Atlanta win (plus a Vikings win), Minnesota will watch the late afternoon docket, rooting for Chicago and Arizona.

And then that’s it. That’s the only method available for the Vikings to play postseason football. Every loss mattered in 2023. Minnesota is paying the piper via this Hail Mary scenario.

As an example of the Vikings’ playoff longshot, if one wagered $100 on the parlay listed above, the bettor would win $4,341.97.

A Hail Mary, indeed.


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.

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