By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings currently hold the lead for the second wild card spot in the NFC playoffs. However, wins over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium and the Green Bay Packers at Mall of America Field do not guarantee the team a spot in the postseason.
The Vikings are tied with three teams from the NFC East Division (the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants) and NFC North Division rival Chicago Bears at 8-6. All five teams can catch the Seattle Seahawks, who have a 9-5 record, for the fifth seed. There is still a highly unlikely chance that the St. Louis Rams sneak into the playoffs – that happens if all five teams lose all remaining games.
Those are the only teams that have not had their postseason schedule decided; either clinched a spot in or out of the playoffs.
If the Vikings win both of its last two games
This is the simplest way for the Vikings to make the playoffs.
When it happens, one of two things needs to happen. Either the Seahawks need to lose both of their games (home against the San Francisco 49ers this week and the Rams in Week 17), or the Giants need to lose one of its final two games (at the Baltimore Ravens this week and home against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17).
If both scenarios happen, the Vikings would be the fifth seed and the Bears would get in as the sixth seed.
If the Vikings win one of their final two games
The most logical outcome is that the Vikings fall to the Texans and beat the Packers.
Basically, the Vikings would need all five teams to split, or worse, their remaining two games. In the event that happens the playoff seedings would likely remain in their current state.
If the Vikings lose both of its last two games
The Vikings can make the playoffs by losing to the Texans and Packers. It is an unlikely and unwanted scenario, but is possible.
The Vikings would need the Cowboys, Bears and Giants to lose both of their two remaining games. The Redskins and Cowboys play in Washington in Week 17. In this scenario, the Redskins would have to win the game. If the Cowboys win it, Dallas wins the east and the Redskins take the No. 6 seed. Also, the Rams need to lose one of their two games for the Vikings to make the postseason.
To sum up
Anyway you look at it, the Vikings need some help. The most logical outcome for the Vikings to make the playoffs is that it wins both games and the Giants lose to the Ravens this week.
Whether it is too confusing or he wants to focus on the next opponent, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has the right attitude towards thinking about playoff scenarios.
“I won’t even try,” he said at his Monday press conference. ‘I’ll be really focusing on how we can beat a very, very good football team. The Houston Texans, that’s the most important thing, without question.”
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Vikings news, see CBS Sports Minnesota.
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.