Vikings' playoff hopes dwindling fast

The Vikings had their most convincing win of the season Sunday, but it's looking more and more like it's too little, too late. The NFC teams in front of them keep winning and it could be only a matter of time, maybe a week, before they are eliminated.

Lost in the hoopla of the Vikings putting together their best win of the season in a rout of the Buffalo Bills was that, despite their best efforts Sunday, the team was officially eliminated from the NFC North title chase with four games to play and are on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs entirely.

Although the Vikings won, so did the Bears, Packers and Saints. With their win, the Bears improved to 9-3 on the season with a 4-0 record in the division. Even if the Vikings run the table, including a win against the Bears, it would even out their head-to-head battle, but, even if Chicago would lose all four of its remaining games, they would finish tied with the Vikings and, by virtue of a better division record, would have the tie-breaker advantage over Minnesota.

With the Bears having the divisional edge, the Vikings' only remaining playoff hope has been reduced to trying to lock down one of the two wild-card spots and one of those went away on Sunday as well. The Saints improved to 9-3 with a win over Cincinnati. Having beaten the Vikings in Week 1, the same scenario is in play. Even if the Saints were to lose their remaining games, they would finish 9-7 and have the tie-breaker edge on the Vikings, leaving just one wild card spot available.

The Vikings' only playoff hope now remains Green Bay (8-4) and the loser of the NFC East title – either Philadelphia (8-4) or the Giants (8-4). The Vikings play both the Eagles and Giants, but that competition may be moot. If the Packers win one more game, they would drop the Vikings to a guaranteed third-place position within the division, which means that the Packers would have to priority for the postseason before the Vikings.

There were plenty of reasons for the Vikings to be happy about their performance Sunday, but, given the outcomes of other games around the NFC, it was a day that may well be setting the sun on the Vikings' 2010 season.


The Vikings aren't the only one of the preseason Super Bowl favorites that might not make the playoffs. With their home loss to Oakland, the San Diego Chargers not only fell two games behind front-running Kansas City, but are tied with the Raiders, who earned a season sweep of the Chargers.

Perennial 12-win team Indianapolis also lost at home (to the newly-inspired Cowboys) to drop them to 6-6. The only hope the Colts have is to catch the Jaguars, who are 7-5 with a 3-1 division record. The Colts are 1-2 in the division with a loss in hand to the Jags.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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