Life for Vikings fans would be a lot more interesting entering the final week of the regular season had Minnesota simply taken care of the Chicago Bears two weeks ago at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Instead, the Vikings let David Montgomery run wild and Chicago left Minneapolis with a 33-27 victory, which effectively put Minnesota's playoff hopes on ice while fueling Chicago's chances of being included in the 7-team NFC playoff field.
Sure, Chicago is red-hot and has a chance to make the playoffs with a win or Arizona Cardinals loss in Week 17. But the Vikings could've been the team with a shot had they beaten the Bears, even if they still would've gotten smoked by Alvin Kamara and the Saints the following week.
A win over Chicago coupled with a loss to the Saints would mean the Vikings would be 7-8 entering the final week. The Bears would also be 7-8, but the Vikings would own that tiebreaker. Arizona would be 8-7, setting the stage for an incredibly entertaining Week 17 in which the Vikings would have a chance to make the playoffs with two easy steps:
- Beating the Lions at home
- Arizona losing at the Rams
Both are conceivable, if not likely. Alas, the Vikings are once again a middle-of-the-pack team that won't make the playoffs for the fourth time in seven seasons under head coach Mike Zimmer. That leaves fans with next to nothing to root for in the final game of the season, followed by three months of nothing, a draft pick in April that isn't in the top 10, followed by more months of nothing before the 2021 season begins next fall.
Of course, the failure against the Bears isn't the only mediocre effort to blame. Who could forget blowing a 24-12 lead at home against the Titans in Week 3? Or allowing the Seahawks to steal victory from the jaws of defeat in Week 5? Ah, the memories...
And don't even get us started on the Vikings blowing two fourth-quarter leads in Week 11 to the Cowboys.
The silver lining? In a year where everything has changed, at least the Vikings haven't.