Two weeks from now the Vikings will likely be packing their bags and heading into another long offseason thanks to a woeful defensive performance that cost them in a home loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
While the odds are stacked against Minnesota, there remains a way for the Vikings to make the playoffs with a final record of 8-8, but they'll need help and absolutely nothing can go wrong.
Here's how Minnesota makes the playoffs:
- Vikings beat the Saints and Lions to finish 8-8
- Cardinals lose to the 49ers and Rams to finish 8-8
- Bears lose to either the Jaguars or Packers to finish 7-9 or 8-8
That's it. There are no other ways Minnesota can sneak in.
So what are the chances of the Cardinals losing out and the Bears losing at least once, not to mention the Vikings needing to win on Christmas Day at New Orleans and then in the regular season final at Detroit?
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Vikings have a 2% chance to pull it off. That jumps to 11% with a win over the Saints, and then to 31% if the Cardinals fall at home to the 49ers.
If the Bears beat the 1-13 Jaguars, which they probably will, Minnesota's playoff chance drops to 28% entering Week 17.
Again, all of this would be happening in succession and Arizona simply tying next week would eliminate Minnesota.
If the Cardinals lose out but the Bears beat the Jaguars and tie the Packers, the Bears get in over Minnesota, so it'll be critical that Green Bay defeats Chicago in Week 17 if the Bears are victorious in Jacksonville.
That begs the question: Will Green Bay still be playing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC or will they be resting starters having already clinched the top spot? Well, if the Vikings beat the Saints and the Packers win at home against the Titans this week, then the only way Green Bay doesn't rest starters (probably) in Week 17 is if Seattle stays in the hunt for the top spot by beating the Rams this week.
It's a massive mess that could've been avoided by beating the Bears, but here the Vikings are, once again needing a miracle to simply stay in the hunt.