With three weeks left in the regular season the Vikings are still very much in playoff conversation, though it might require them winning out to get in.
Entering Week 15, the Vikings (6-7) and Bears (6-7) are one game behind the Cardinals (7-6) for the final playoff in the NFC. Minnesota can make it a two-team race with Arizona by beating Chicago this week, which is all that really matters in the short term.
For the sake of simplicity, let's go ahead and assume the Vikings beat the Bears, making it a two-team race with Arizona. Minnesota owns the tiebreaker over Arizona due to a better winning percentage against common opponents, and that can't change over the final three weeks. That's a huge plus for the Vikings.
Arizona remaining schedule: vs. Eagles, vs. 49ers, at Rams
The Rams will undoubtedly be competing with the Seahawks for the NFC West title until the end, so resting starters isn't likely to happen. That's good for the Vikings. The 49ers have been awful the last two weeks after upsetting the Rams, and the Eagles looked like a much better team with Jalen Hurts at quarterback in their win over the Saints on Sunday.
Before bludgeoning the Giants on Sunday, the Cardinals were a Hail Mary shy of losing six in a row, so it's not like they're clicking on all cylinders. Arizona definitely doesn't look like a team that will win out, which is great because if they do the Vikings are dead.
The Vikings, meanwhile, have a pretty favorable schedule with the Bears coming to town this week and the 5-8 Lions in Detroit in Week 17. Sandwiched between the two division foes is a nightmare on Christmas Day on the road against the New Orleans Saints.
Predictably, a Vikings-Saints matchup with the season on the line appears very likely, and it may even include quarterback Drew Brees, who has missed the past month with 11 fractured ribs. The odds of the rivalry adding a new chapter are really good. Anyone up for a Christmas miracle as an encore to the Minneapolis Miracle?
If the Vikings win out to finish 9-7, they make the playoffs if Arizona loses at least one of its final three games to finish 9-7 or worse.
If the Vikings finish 8-8, Arizona needs to lose at least two of its final three games for the Vikings to clinch. Again, this is assuming Minnesota beats Chicago this week. If the Vikings lose to Chicago, all hell breaks lose and this is far more complicated.
If the Vikings finish 7-9, they're probably dead, but they could still get in if Arizona loses out and the Bears lose to both Jacksonville and Green Bay.
If the Vikings finish 6-10, they're dead no matter what because Chicago would have at least 7 wins.