Packers-Vikings: The Complete Playoff Picture

If the Vikings and Packers remain tied at the end of the season, things get complicated. That's where Laura tries to help, in this detailed look at the tiebreakers between the Pack and Vikings. One of the possibilities results in making a game played several weeks ago more important than we realized realized at the time...

The Packers finally pulled into a tie with the Vikings atop the division thanks to a 38-21 win over the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota's loss in Chicago. But the Vikings still control their own destiny because if both teams win out, they will hold the tiebreaker, which  in that case is conference record. But if the Vikings lose one or both games and still wind up in a tie with Green Bay, the knot gets even tighter. Let's just say the Packers will have to let bygones be bygones and start rooting hard for the Arizona Cardinals.

If the Packers and Vikings tie at either 10-6, 9-7 or 8-8, they'll sort through the NFL tiebreakers. At any of those marks, the teams would also be knotted in the following tiebreakers:

  1. Head-to-head play (1-1)
  2. Divisional play (4-2)

Currently, the teams are also tied in:

  1. Record vs. common opponents. Both the Packers and Vikings are 7-5 (the division tie plus 3-3 outside the division) with two games remaining in this category. Besides divisional play, which obviously ended in a tie, the Packer Vikings shared the following opponents, with results:

    - GB and Minnesota both beat San Francisco, both beat Seattle and both lost to St. Louis.
    - Minnesota lost to San Diego, while Green Bay won.
    - Minnesota beat Denver, Green Bay plays the Broncos Dec. 28.
    - Green Bay lost to Kansas City, the Vikings play the Chiefs Saturday.
    - Green Bay lost to Arizona, the Vikings play the Cardinals Dec. 28.
    - Minnesota lost to Oakland, Green Bay plays there Monday.
    If both teams win out, split or lose both, they'll remain knotted through three tiebreakers.

That brings us to tie breaker No. 4:

  1. Conference record. A run of five straight wins vs. NFC opponents to open the season weighs heavily in the Vikings' favor. They stand at 7-4 in conference games with just one remaining – the regular-season finale at 3-11 Arizona. Green Bay is 7-5 and finished with their NFC slate. How huge is the Thanksgiving Day debacle in Detroit now?

If the Packers and Vikings lose out and finish 8-8, or both finish 9-7, with the Vikings' loss coming against Arizona, that will force the decision to the fifth tiebreaker:

  1. Strength of Victory, which is different than…
  2. Strength of Schedule.

The only team Minnesota beat that is not a common opponent with Green Bay is Atlanta. So the better the Falcons' record, the better Minnesota's strength of victory. Likewise, Green Bay defeated  Tampa Bay, which is not the Vikings' schedule, so Tampa Bay wins strengthen the Packers' case. Way down the line, Detroit losses and Chicago victories in weeks 16 and 17 will benefit Green Bay as well.

Got it?

The wildcard picture has even more possibilities. The Packers clinch at least a wildcard with a win plus a Dallas win or tie plus a Seattle loss and a New Orleans loss or tie.

Of course, Packer wins and Vikings losses would make the whole picture a lot easier to figure out and a lot shorter to break down.

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