The schedules of other NFC playoff contenders
During the next few weeks, Vikings players and coaches are going to repeat the fact that they’re taking the rest of the season “one game at a time.” And expect “control their own destiny” to be thrown around when it comes to Minnesota’s efforts to get back to the playoffs this year.
But for as much as the Vikings’ focus will be on the matchups remaining on their own schedule, it will also be important to pay attention to how some of the other NFC playoff contenders perform.
The teams sitting ahead of Minnesota in the current NFC standings that they can actually catch up to are the 5-5 Chicago Bears, 6-4 Arizona Cardinals, and 7-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bears have lost their last four games, so they don’t seem like a team that the Vikings will really have to worry about in the playoff race. But the Cardinals and Bucs are the two squads Minnesota should be paying close attention to.
Arizona has the ninth-hardest remaining schedule this year while Tampa Bay has the 15th-hardest slate of opponents left according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Both have some matchups that look like easy wins. But the Cardinals also have to face a talented Los Angeles Rams team twice and a San Francisco 49ers squad that would love to spoil the postseason hopes of their division rival.
Tampa has lost two of their last three games and their next matchup has them going up against the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs. The Bucs also have to take on the Vikings and two of their final three games will be on the road.
A lot can happen in the NFL during a six-week period and there’s no reason to expect that the final part of this season won’t include a bunch of shuffling around before the final playoff seeds in the NFC are decided.