In order for the Minnesota Vikings not to enter the upcoming postseason as the NFC’s second seed, a lot has to go down in Week 17.
Thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Oakland Raiders in Week 16 (barely), the top seed in the NFC playoffs is no longer up for grabs. However, with a win on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings can clinch the NFC’s second seed and earn a first-round playoff bye.
Defeating the Chicago Bears this week at U.S. Bank Stadium is actually not the only way the Vikings can enter the postseason as the second seed in the NFC. It can also be accomplished in a few other ways.
If for some reason Minnesota is unable to get a win over the 5-10 Bears on Sunday, then one of three of the following scenarios would need to occur in order for the Vikings to rest during the first week of the playoffs. Either the Carolina Panthers would have to lose to the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints would need to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or the Los Angeles Rams would need to get a victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Aside from the Vikings winning on Sunday, two of these three other separate scenarios have a good chance of happening this week.
The Panthers falling to the Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta would be far from a gigantic surprise. Not only will the Falcons be fighting for the final playoff spot in the NFC, but they have also never lost at home to Carolina since Dan Quinn became the team’s head coach in 2015.
Beating the Buccaneers should not be a hard task for the Saints this week. New Orleans has won 11 of their last 13 games this year and six of their last eight matchups on the road in Tampa Bay since 2009.
The Rams getting a win over the 49ers is the one outcome that Minnesota should hope they do not have to depend on. Los Angeles has already announced they are going to rest a bunch of their top players (including quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurely) and they are facing off against a red hot San Francisco team led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that has not suffered a loss since Week 12.
Considering oddsmakers have the Vikings favored by 11.5 points over Chicago this weekend, it does not seem likely that Minnesota will be ending the regular season with a loss. But if they do, there is still a pretty good chance that they will still begin their journey to Super Bowl 52 with a first-round bye.