Minnesota Vikings: Sketching out the Road to a Playoff Berth

Mike NelsonCorrespondent INovember 17, 2012

Lossess at Indianapolis, at Washington, at Seattle and at home against Tampa Bay will haunt Minnesota at the end of the season.
Lossess at Indianapolis, at Washington, at Seattle and at home against Tampa Bay will haunt Minnesota at the end of the season.Andy King/Getty Images

Entering their Week 11 bye the Minnesota Vikings find themselves at 6-4 and, at this moment, on the outside looking in relative to the 2012 NFC playoff picture.

The Seattle Seahawks (6-4) defeated the Vikings in Week 9 and own the head-to-head tiebreaker, but despite Seattle owning that tiebreaker, the Vikings are very much in the playoff picture.

Besides Seattle there is only one other NFC team over .500, and that's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4). To Minnesota's dismay that also happens to be another team that holds a tiebreaker over it.

The good news for Minnesota is that it very much controls its own destiny relative to the postseason. 

Of its final six games, four are against the two teams slotted ahead of it in the NFC North. Now those won't be easy contests against the Chicago Bears (7-2) and the Green Bay Packers (6-3), but those matches provide the Vikings the opportunity to drastically climb or fall down the playoff ladder.

And if the Vikings do well in those contests, then it means what the rest of the NFC does is irrelevant since Minnesota will make progress towards winning its own division.

Bottom line: In their final six games, the Vikings need to muster at least four wins to reach the postseason.

The winning percentage of Minnesota's final four opponents: .686 (24-11). Two of those final six games are at home and the two home games are against Green Bay and Chicago.

To assure themselves of a postseason berth, the Vikings must win 10 games. That number has been fairly consistent at getting a team into the postseason (sorry 2010Tampa Bay Bucs).

Now, I projected the Vikings to finish 9-7 after the halfway point and I maintain that projection.

I had Minnesota winning at home over Chicago and Green Bay and defeating St. Louis on the road. Minnesota would lose to Chicago, Houston and Green Bay on the road. I maintain that position.

It's moments like this where the Vikings wish they could take back a loss at home to Tampa Bay...or at Indianapolis...or at Seattle...or at Washington. All four of which were winnable games.

That means Minnesota must surprise me with a win on the road over one of three of the NFL's best teams. I'm not optimistic for them.