By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings are currently in fifth place in the National Football Conference (NFC). It is way too early to start thinking about playoff seeding, but the Vikings played on Thursday and their fans do not have a team to root for on Sunday.
There are six games on the schedule for Sunday and Monday that have an effect on where the Vikings sit in the standings.
Carolina Panthers (1-5) at Chicago Bears (5-1)
Sunday, Noon at Soldier Field
The Vikings trail the Bears by two games in the loss column. The Bears have already had their bye week, while the Vikings will have an off week in a couple weeks. If the Panthers can pull off the upset in the Windy City, the Vikings will get back to a half game behind the Bears in the division. If not, the Vikings will be a game and a half back.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) at Green Bay Packers (4-3)
Sunday, Noon at Lambeau Field
The Packers appear to be back on track after winning just two of their first five games this season. The Vikings lead over the Packers has been trimmed to a half game. If the Jaguars can pull off the upset, the Vikings will get back to a one game lead in the standings over the Packers. If the Packers win, they move into a tie for the better wild card position.
Seattle Seahawks (4-3) at Detroit Lions (2-4)
Sunday, Noon at Ford Field
The Vikings have a one game lead on the Seahawks for a wild card spot. The Vikings head to Seattle on Nov. 4. That game will do more for seeding, but everyone says CenturyLink Field is a tough place for opponents to play. So a Lions win would help the Vikings take a one game lead into the matchup in Seattle.
Atlanta Falcons (6-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)
Sunday, Noon at Lincoln Financial Field
The Falcons are the only unbeaten team in the NFL entering Week 8. The Vikings are now three games behind the Falcons in the loss column for the best record in the conference. The Eagles trail the Vikings by one game for a wild card spot. If the Falcons win, the Vikings will trail them by 2.5 games and probably would have no chance at the top seed. However, it would maintain its game and a half lead for a wild card spot. If the Eagles pull off the upset, the Vikings would remain within striking distance of the Falcons, but would lose ground on the Eagles.
New York Giants (5-2) at Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
Sunday, 3:25 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium
The Vikings trail the Giants by one game in the loss column in the standings. The Giants lead the NFC East Division. The Cowboys are tied with the Vikings in the loss column for a wild card spot. If the Cowboys win, the Vikings will get closer to the Giants in the NFC standings. However, the Cowboys will get within a half game of the Vikings for a playoff spot. If the Giants win, the Vikings will get its game and a half lead over the Cowboys back for a wild card, but will lose ground with the Giants for a possible first round bye in the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers (5-2) at Arizona Cardinals (4-3)
Monday, 7:30 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium
The Vikings are tied with the 49ers in the loss column in the standings. The 49ers lead the NFC West Division. The Cardinals trail the Vikings by one game in the loss column for a wild card spot. The Vikings hold the tiebreaker over both teams. If the Cardinals win, the Vikings get back into a tie with the 49ers in the NFC standings, but the Cardinals would also move into a tie as well. If the 49ers win, the Vikings fall one game behind them in the NFC standings, but would get back to a game ahead of the Cardinals for a wild card spot.
It is fun to think about playoff seeding scenarios. But if the Vikings cannot improve its tackling, covering, passing and blocking, it does not matter. There are still eight games and nine weeks remaining in the regular season
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.