It's the annual debate for not-great, but not-terrible teams in the NFL: Should you be OK with losing games in order to get a higher draft pick and set yourself up for getting a better player for the future?
The Vikings – 4-7, in last place in the NFC North and all but eliminated from playoff contention – are now in that spot. And at least one national writer is suggesting it may be in the purple's interest to just lose, baby.
Bill Barnwell at Grantland identified the most pivotal game remaining in the season for each NFL team, and for the Vikings picked week 14 against the 2-9 New York Jets. Why?
"With little to play for, it’s in Minnesota’s best interests to tank over the final five weeks. Beating the Jets at home might feel good, but it won’t be the best thing for the franchise down the road."
That game, which is at TCF Bank Stadium, is arguably the most likely win the rest of the way. Minnesota's remaining schedule:
- vs Panthers (3-7-1)
- vs Jets (2-9)
- @ Lions (7-4)
- @ Dolphins (6-5)
- vs Bears (5-6)
It's not far-fetched that the Jets could be the Vikings' only win the rest of the year.This Sunday's matchup against the Panthers is certainly winnable as well. But in those final three games, Minnesota is a clear underdog. So let's peg those as losses.
So what would happen to their draft slot if they win or lose those two "maybe" contests?
2-3 through final games
1-4 through final games
The Vikings finish 5-11 and likely pick in the 6-8 range.
0-5 through final games
The Vikings finish 4-12 and very likely end up with a top five selection.
On Monday, head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters the team is not interested in "moral victories" – so we could probably guess where he stands on this.
Which scenario sounds better to you?