The reality of the 2014 season set in Sunday. The loss to Chicago effectively takes the Vikings out of playoff contention. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be true. It hasn’t been unusual for 9-7 teams to make the playoffs.
In the current state of the NFC as it stands today, unless you’re wallowing in the NFC South, nine wins isn’t going to get it done. Last year, Arizona won 10 games and missed the playoffs. This season, the line is even more clearly drawn between the haves and the have nots
Had the Vikings won Sunday, they would be the only team in the NFC with a .500 record. Of the 16 teams, 15 of them have played 10 games. It would seem natural to see at least a couple teams at 5-5, but this season has been anything but normal or full of parity.
Arizona is riding high and would need a monumental collapse not to make the playoffs. At 9-1, they have too many chips banked up to miss the playoffs. The Cards are in.
One team from the NFC South makes it. One of them has to.
As things currently stand, the NFC East and NFC North both have two teams at 7-3 fighting it out for the division title. Two of those teams will take away division title spots and the other two have set themselves up nicely to be in solid position to go after the two wild card entrants if they lose out on the division title.
And let’s not forget the last two NFC entrants in the Super Bowl – Seattle and San Francisco – who both sit at 6-4 and either or both could go on a late-season run and make it exciting down the stretch.
The Vikings’ season isn’t over because of Sunday’s loss. There are still six games to play and four of them, including the next three, will be at home. But the reality is that the five playoff spots earned – along with the obligatory spot the winner of the NFC South will be handed – has seven teams that are two games or more ahead of the Vikings. Two of them have wins over the Vikings and both of those are in their own division.
How the 2014 season for the Vikings is remembered by history won’t be defined by the first 10 games of the season. It will be by the final six. With the next three games at home, the Vikings can start laying the groundwork for where their team goes from here.
The numbers don’t match up with the reality of the Vikings making the playoffs. Even if they had won Sunday, at 5-5, they still would have been behind the same number of teams with the same number of tie-breaker disadvantages.
As long as there is there is a mathematical chance, the Vikings will continue to look at their coming opponent as a stepping stone on their way to the playoffs. Stranger things have happened … but not very often.
The Vikings got run out of Soldier Field by a desperate Bears team that stepped up when it had to.
Now the Vikings are the desperate team. They have a red hot Green Bay team that dismantled them at Lambeau Field and has topped 50 points in each of their last two games coming to town with bad intentions.
Had the Vikings beaten the Bears, it might be a much different mood heading into the second go-round with the Packers. Now it appears to be a test of wills and where the Vikings are as a team. From here on through, players are looking to keep their roster spots, which will likely prevent anyone from checking out.
The Vikings had a chance to deliver the playoff death blow on the road Sunday and the Bears played one of their best games of the season. The Packers have the chance to do the same to the Vikings, because seven losses won’t cut it in 2014 to make the playoffs.
How will the Vikings respond? Stay tuned.
Reality of no playoffs shaping up for Vikings
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