The Sneaky and Overlooked Part of the Vikings Game at DET

Lions quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Vikings during the second half of the Lions' 34-23 win over the Vikings on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, at Ford Field. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Some Minnesota Vikings fans want the team to “tank” at the Detroit Lions this Sunday. The club won’t do that, but it doesn’t stop tankers from requesting a tank.

The Sneaky and Overlooked Part of the Vikings Game at DET

Others desire a Vikings playoff game, which would require a win over the Lions, a loss by the Green Bay Packers to the Chicago Bears, an Arizona Cardinals win over the Seattle Seahawks, and either a Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints loss.

The Sneaky
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That’s probably not happening, either.

So, as the Tank vs. Playoff debate circulates on social media, an overlooked item is where the Vikings finish in the NFC North. Second, third, or fourth place will determine 2024’s schedule difficulty, and few are talking about it, too fixated on draft order and faint playoff hopes.

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Foremost, Minnesota cannot win the division. It will not play a first-place schedule next season as it did in 2023. The Lions canceled the Vikings’ hopes of a division crown at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 16. No matter what, Detroit will place a first-place schedule in 2024.

Then, however, mystery looms for the Vikings’ finish inside the North.

2nd Place

Most of the Vikings’ 2024 schedule is determined, but three games will be determined by their placement in the NFC North on Sunday.

If the Vikings beat the Lions while the Packers lose to the Bears, Minnesota would play these teams in 2024:

  • vs. Bills or Dolphins
  • vs. Saints or Falcons
  • at Cowboys or Eagles (probably Cowboys)

3rd Place

And if the Vikings lose to the Lions, but the Packers beat the Bears, it would net a third-place schedule that looks more like this:

  • vs. Jets
  • vs. Falcons
  • at Giants

4th Place

Finally, the “best-case scenario” for fans who’d rather the Vikings have an easy schedule next season at the expense of a last-place finish in 2023. This would require a Vikings loss at Detroit and a Bears win at Green Bay:

  • vs. Patriots
  • vs. Panthers
  • at Commanders

And when one examines it in that vein, fourth place doesn’t look half-bad.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Here are the other Vikings matchups in 2024, regardless of this weekend’s outcome —

Opponents at U.S. Bank Stadium:

  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • San Francisco 49ers

Then, games on the road versus these teams:

  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Tennessee Titans

Ergo, in addition to draft order or slipping into the postseason, folks must monitor division placement, too.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are 3.5-point underdogs at Detroit.

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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