The Minnesota Vikings have secured a playoff spot and at least one home game in the playoffs with their win over the Cincinnati Bengals last week. With a division title in their pocket, they can now aim to position themselves securely as one of the top two seeds in the NFC.

That could give the Vikings homefield advantage throughout the entire postseason, particularly if the Philadelphia Eagles falter in their final two games of the season. After a close win over a 2-12 New York Giants team and forced to start their backup quarterback, it’s certainly possible.

The Vikings will need the Eagles to lose their next two games in order to get the top seed because the Eagles hold the tiebreaker, with a better winning percentage in common games — the Eagles have beaten the Carolina Panthers.

Regardless, winning the next two games guarantees a first-round bye for Minnesota.

The only thing that changes is whether or not they’re the top seed or the second seed. The difference between the two only matters if the top seed wins their divisional round matchup while the Vikings also win theirs.

If the Vikings lose one game…

If the Vikings do lose one of the next two games, three teams are in striking distance of a tie: the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Having won against the Rams and Saints, the Vikings would do well in a two-way tie against those teams and would lose out against the Panthers.

If the Vikings find themselves in a three (or more)-way tie after losing one more game, they end up with a first-round bye. If that tie involves both the Panthers and Saints, Minnesota would come out ahead because the Panthers are automatically eliminated from consideration — only division winners can be considered a top-four seed in the playoffs and in the case of a tie in record, the New Orleans Saints end up as division winners because of their head-to-head wins over Carolina. That eliminates the Panthers from contention for a bye.

In a three-way tie without the Panthers, the Vikings still come out ahead because any multi-team tie is broken if one team has swept all the other teams.

That means in this scenario, their priority is for the Panthers to lose. The rest is gravy. This weekend, in this scenario, that means Vikings fans should cheer for:

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win against the Carolina Panthers

If the Vikings lose two games…

Things get more complicated if the Vikings lose two. If they do, they can be overtaken by the Panthers, Saints or Rams and could tie not only with those three but also the Falcons.

If the Falcons tie with the Vikings, Atlanta ends up winning the division and eliminates the other NFC South teams from contention and the Vikings still earn at least the third seed. A Falcons team that’s 11-5 will win the division because the Panthers and the Saints are their next two opponents and must lose for Atlanta to win.

The question is whether or not the Los Angeles Rams win their next two games in that scenario. If they do, they get the second seed. If the Rams only win one of the two, they enter a tiebreaker with the Vikings that would put Minnesota on top.

Because the Vikings need at least one loss from the Panthers, Rams or Saints in this scenario, it makes the rooting guide easy. Vikings fans should cheer for:

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win against the Carolina Panthers
  • The Atlanta Falcons to win against the New Orleans Saints
  • The Tennessee Titans to win against the Los Angeles Rams

Overall

That means that, combined, the Vikings want to cheer in the following ways:

  • The Oakland Raiders to win against the Philadelphia Eagles
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win against the Carolina Panthers
  • The Atlanta Falcons to win against the New Orleans Saints
  • The Tennessee Titans to win against the Los Angeles Rams

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree that it would make sense to root for the Falcons this week IF we already knew we were going to lose our last two games. If the Saints lose this week, that opens up the door for the Panthers (They only 10-4 team we don’t have the head-to-head tiebreak) to win the division and get the first round bye. We need the Saints to win the South.

    • Completely agree. I honestly doubt, that we are really going to loose two games against the Hundley-and Trubisky-lead Packers and Bears. So we got to cheer for the Saints and Rams.

      Pretty sweet position.

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