If the Vikings lose Sunday, they can pick no lower than No. 3 overall. However, if they win, they could drop like a rock.
As it currently stands, the Vikings are the only team in the league with three wins – one more than Indianapolis and St. Louis. There is a chance that, if the Vikings lose and the Rams win, Minnesota could end up with the No. 2 pick in the draft. However, seeing as the 49ers – the Rams' opponent Sunday – need to win to assure the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and the benefits that come with it (earning a first-round bye and guaranteeing that if they have to play New Orleans it won't be in the Superdome), the odds of the Rams taking out the 12-3 Niners are limited at best, so the No. 3 spot seems the most realistic … if the Vikings lose.
However, if the Vikings win, things get interesting. There are three teams with four wins – Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Jacksonville. The first tie-breaker for teams with the same record is strength of schedule. It would seem to make sense that the team that played the most difficult schedule would have the advantage on draft day. Not so fast, my friend. The NFL rewards the worst team by giving the team with the weakest strength of the schedule the higher pick.
Why is that bad news? The Vikings have a tougher strength of schedule than all three of the teams with four wins. As a result, the bottom line has become quite simple – lose Sunday and the Vikings will pick no worse than No. 3, win Sunday and their first-round draft pick could drop all the way to No. 6.
It's hard for fans to agree with the sentiment that the Vikings should find a way to lose games, but it would appear there will be a lot more long-term benefit if the Vikings lose to Chicago Sunday than if they win.
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.