Minnesota Vikings Are In A Dogfight For The Last Wild-Card Spot
December 11, 2020
When the Minnesota Vikings started the season with three consecutive losses, the writing was on the wall. They were not going to make the playoffs this season, or to be more precise, the odds were heavily against them.
Since 1980, six teams have managed to get things turned around well enough to qualify for the postseason. That is six out of 182 teams.
So—yeah, the odds were stacked against them.
A win over the Houston Texans in Week Four helped make things look a little better, but then the Vikings followed up the win with two more losses to fall to 1-5. Only four teams since the merger in 1970 have started 1-5 and still made the playoffs.
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Once again, the odds were stacked heavily against them.
It certainly wasn’t looking good for the playoff hopes of the Minnesota Vikings. If they were going to have a shot, they would have to start winning some games—and they did, beginning with a surprising win against the Green Bay Packers.
That win led to two more before they dropped a shocker to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11. But they got back on track the following week against Carolina. With the win over Jacksonville last week, the Vikings are 6-6 and the current holder of the final wild-card spot in the NFC, the 7-seed.
However, having it now means nothing. It only matters if the Vikings are in that spot (or better) following their regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions. With games against Tampa Bay, Chicago, New Orleans, and Detroit, that will be easier said than done.
The Road to the Playoffs For The Minnesota Vikings
According to the oddsmakers at 888sports.com, the Vikings have decent odds to make the playoffs at +137, but the odds favor them not making it (-167).
Considering their schedule and the competition for the final wild-card spot in the NFC this year, that sounds about right.
In the last five seasons, had there been a third wild-card team in the NFC, that team would have had eight wins twice, and nine wins three times. That means the Vikings need to go 3-1 in their last four games to have an excellent chance to make the playoffs.
Doing so is certainly not going to be easy.
They are 6.5-point underdogs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. But the Buccaneers have been struggling a little of late. The Bucs have lost three of their last four and saw Tom Brady throw seven interceptions in those three losses.
But to be fair, the losses came against the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, and New Orleans Saints—three of the NFL’s best teams. So, the Bucs may be ripe for another defeat, or they could be ready to blow up on someone.
It should not be too hard for them to take down the Chicago Bears in Week 15 and the Detroit Lions in Week 17. But that means they must beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 16 (assuming they lost to the Bucs) to get that all-important ninth win.
That all depends on whether the Saints have Drew Brees back behind center by then. Yes, Taysom Hill has done well enough to win against lesser opponents. But the Vikings are not going to be as easy as the Falcons or Broncos.
Worst case scenario? The Vikings go 2-2 down the stretch and finish with an 8-8 record. But then they will have to hope the Cardinals do not finish 3-1 to make their record 9-7. With games against the Giants, Eagles, 49ers, and Rams, they could do just that.
But they could also go 2-2 or even 1-3.
So – How Should You Bet?
This is a difficult one to call since there are so many possible ways the season could play out for both teams. The oddsmakers favor the Vikings making it in over the Cardinals (Yes +163, No -200), but oddsmakers do not always get it right.
Based on how both teams have played in recent weeks, the Vikings may be more likely to win games than the slumping Cardinals. Of course, the Cardinals could get back on track this week against the Giants, and Kirk Cousins might not get on track at all against the Buccaneers.
Technically, all the 5-7 teams are still in the hunt. But any of them would have to go 4-0 the rest of the way to have a shot (not likely).