With the division championship still within reach, there's no doubt the Vikings are rooting for the Bears to upset the Packers at Lambeau Field this Sunday. But that's only good for the Vikings if its coupled with a win over the Chargers in Los Angeles.
A Vikings win coupled with a Packers loss would put both teams at 10-4 in the NFC North, setting the stage for an epic Week 16 matchup between the two rivals at U.S. Bank Stadium.
If Green Bay were to win in that hypothetical scenario, they would clinch the North. But if Minnesota were to win, it would set them up for a division championship so long as they beat the Bears or Green Bay loses at Detroit in Week 17.
That's the roses and butterflies scenario.
It ain't so pretty if Green Bay wins this week because it would put the Packers one win from clinching the division, and force the Vikings into a battle with the Rams for a Wild Card.
There's also potential trouble if the Bears win this week, specifically if the Vikings also lose to the Chargers. Throw in a Rams win over the Cowboys and it spells certain trouble for Minnesota. In such a scenario, the battle for the last Wild Card would look like this entering Week 16:
- Rams (9-5)
- Vikings (9-5)
- Bears (8-6)
As we explained in a story earlier this week, almost every Vikings-Rams tiebreaker favors the Rams, and that would be the case going into Week 16 in this situation. This scenario also sees the Bears one game behind the Vikings with two weeks to go, including a head-to-head meeting in Minneapolis Week 17.
Week 16 results would likely muddle the picture more, as the Vikings host the Packers, the Rams play at the 49ers and the Bears host the Chiefs.
Best- and worst-case scenarios this week
Worst-case scenario this week is if the Packers beat the Bears, Rams beat the Cowboys and Vikings lose to the Chargers. That essentially kills Minnesota's division hopes while also putting the Rams in control of the final Wild Card.
The second-worst scenario is if the Rams beat the Cowboys, Vikings lose to the Chargers and Bears beat the Packers. Minnesota's division hopes would be on life support, the Rams would control the last Wild Card and the Bears would be one game behind Minnesota.
The best-case scenario is the Vikings beat the Chargers, Rams lose to the Cowboys and Bears beat the Packers. It's Minnesota's best chance at the North and gives them a two-game cushion for the final Wild Card.
The second-best scenario is if the Rams lose to the Cowboys, Bears beat the Packers and Vikings lose to the Chargers. That way, the Vikings still control the second Wild Card and still have a shot, although minimal, to win the North with two weeks to go.
All of this is way too confusing, but so it goes when you're in the thick of a division and Wild Card race.