So You're Saying There's A (Real) Chance?

The Vikings seemed all but dead in the water just two weeks ago at 3-6. But, with Detroit in a three-game free fall and all three of the conference teams that entered play Sunday at 5-5 falling, the Vikings are not only alive, but have a chance to control their own future as the final five games of the 2007 season unfold in front of them following their blowout win over the Giants.

For the last couple of weeks, trying to sell the Vikings as a playoff contender seemed ludicrous. And why not? At the midway point of the season, both the Giants and Lions were 6-2 and, with the Packers and Cowboys each 7-1, it appeared as though the only drama heading toward the NFC playoffs was going to center around who earned the No. 1 seed between the Cowboys and Packers and who would qualify as the division champs in the NFC South and NFC West.

The Vikings were merely an afterthought at that point – even more so after getting caned by the Packers in what might have been a franchise low point three weeks ago. Even the "glass half full" types had to see the Vikings being viewed as a playoff contender as a long shot at best.

Well, here's to the long shots. After a week in which all of the chips fell the Vikings' way, not only are they alive for the playoffs, they're close to controlling their own destiny to get in. If the playoffs were to start right now, the Giants and Lions would be the teams that would make it. But, the Vikings already have a win over New York in the event they would finish in a head-to-head tie-breaker, and they have the free-falling Lions coming into the Metrodome this week with a chance to draw even.

The Vikings couldn't have drawn up a better scenario than what took place over the weekend. With the Lions suffering their third straight loss, they now sit at 6-5. Of the three NFC teams that came into Sunday with 5-5 records – the Eagles, Redskins and Cardinals – all of them lost to drop them to 5-6. While the Lions are still in line for the last wild card spot, instead of having one or two teams on their tail, they now have six – the aforementioned trio of teams along with the Vikings, Bears and Saints.

Detroit's buffer could be completely eliminated by the Vikings next week, which would make the final four weeks a multi-team dash to the finish line. If that happens, the Vikings might be the best equipped to make a playoff run given their schedule. After the Lions (6-5), the Vikings don't face a team that currently has a winning record the rest of way, with games at the 49ers (3-8), vs. the Bears (5-6), vs. the Redskins (5-6) and at the Broncos (5-6).

A couple of weeks ago, it would have seemed ridiculous to think the Vikings could be a playoff team and, while there still needs to be some help to get it done, the road has been paved for them by their own two-game win streak and the collapse of the teams in front of them. We were half-kidding when we used the line from "Dumb and Dumber" a week ago, saying, "So you're telling me there's a chance?" Nobody is laughing anymore. We are telling you there's a chance and, as it stands, it's a pretty good chance.

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