What a difference one win can do for a fan base. Heading into Week 10, the Minnesota Vikings were looking more like the version from 2011 that finished 3-13 than a team that had any playoff aspirations. After a 4-1 start the Vikings had lost three of their last four games. There were calls to bench Christian Ponder and start just about anyone else.
Their signature win against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3, a 24-13 victory that saw the Vikings sustain three touchdown drives of over 80 yards, seemed like a fluke. It was more like an off-week for the 49ers than a statement that the Minnesota was ready to compete for a playoff spot.
After completing the season sweep of the Detroit Lions with a 34-24 win at the Metrodome, people are talking about playoffs again. Why not? At 6-4, the Vikings are one of only eight teams in the NFC with a winning record heading into Week 11.
The problem is that two of those teams are currently ahead of the Vikings—the Packers at 6-3 and the Bears at 7-2. With four of their final six games against these two teams, the Vikings control their fate.
In order to make the playoffs, the Vikings will need to win at least half of their remaining games—a tough task with St. Louis and Houston left on their schedule along with the Packers and Bears. It's entirely possible the Vikings will be underdogs in each of their final six games.
Even if the Vikings were not to win another game—and fulfill the record I projected at the beginning of the season—they are still a better team than last season.
Here are some things to watch for in the final six games.