(WCCO)- It wasn’t pretty, but the Vikings got the win they needed to get back to .500 on Sunday beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-24 in overtime. Thanks to the Arizona Cardinals loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Vikings also took over the final playoff spot in the NFC with four games left to play. However, the projections systems remain low on the Vikings chances, giving them between a 31 and 39 percent chance of making the postseason.
As we covered last week, that was largely to be expected. Mike Zimmer’s group still has matchups against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints left while the Cardinals, their main competition, face the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles the next two weeks. Minnesota’s schedule appears more difficult though the Giants are no longer the easy win that they were earlier in the season.
So, at 6-6, holding the tiebreaker over the Cardinals, what do the Vikings need to do down the stretch to make the playoffs? As we mentioned last week, the Vikings would need to finish at least 8-8 with the Cardinals also finishing with that record in order to make the playoffs.
After Sunday’s game, the expectations haven’t changed too much with the Vikes still underdogs against the Buccaneers (34%) and Saints (19%) while being favored against the Bears (68%) and Lions (68%). The projections bumped up Minnesota’s win probability over the Bears by four percent while also dropping their probability against the Lions by the same. That is likely a result of the Lions stunning comeback win over Chicago on Sunday.
For the Cardinals, things have changed a bit more however. Arizona is now favored in basically a toss-up against the Giants this week (51%) compared to a 59 percent win probability prior to last week’s games. They have a better probability against the struggling Eagles (up to 67% from 61%). But, they are now exactly 50-50 against the 49ers and staring down being significant underdogs in their rematch with the Rams in Week 17 (21% win probability).
Going back to our old friend the NFL playoff simulator and going based on those probabilities, the Vikings would get in at 8-8 with the Cardinals coming up short either at 8-8 or 7-9. If the Vikings surprise either the Buccaneers or Saints, the probability of making the postseason will go up significantly. Win Sunday and the FiveThirtyEight model sees the Vikings chances jump to 68 percent even if the Cardinals win as well.
The Vikings face the Buccaneers in Tampa on Sunday, December 13 at 12:00 p.m. CST.