The Minnesota Vikings should be a playoff team next year in the NFC. Here are the five games they must win this fall to ensure that of happening.
Even with the NFL playoffs expanding to seven teams in each conference, the Minnesota Vikings certainly had the feel of a playoff team entering the offseason anyway. They have one of the deepest rosters in football and were able to give Kirk Cousins his first playoff win of his NFL career last year. However, Minnesota faces stiff competition in a deep and talented NFC in 2020.
There are only a handful of teams who have no shot of getting one of the seven available playoff spots. Sadly, those teams know who they are if they just be totally honest with themselves. As for the Vikings, they are one of a few teams who can realistically contend for the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC and get that much coveted first-round bye.
For Minnesota to do that, or even win the NFC North for that matter, the Vikings can’t go worse than 10-6 and would probably need to be as good as 11-5. While it’s a tad premature to say Minnesota is a 12-4 caliber team, it wouldn’t be the least bit shocking if the Vikings were able to pull that off this fall. But they need to win a handful of important games to get to double digits.
Here are five games Minnesota must win if the Vikings want to win the division this season.
Home U.S. Bank Stadium
For the Vikings to get to 11-5, they’re going to need to go about 7-1 or 6-2 in their eight home games this year. While there isn’t any game on the slate in Minneapolis that isn’t winnable, being able to hold serve and split their second-place schedule is crucial. Because winning on the road vs. the Seattle Seahawks seems unlikely, beating the Dallas Cowboys at home has to happen.
Dallas is one of a few teams who have an outside shot of winning its division, but is more likely than not to push for one of the three available wild card spots in the NFC. Though the Cowboys are probably only a middle-of-the-pack team and could end up on the outside looking in at a playoff berth, it is important for Minnesota to have the head-to-head tiebreaker with them.
The Cowboys may challenge the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, but have the feel of a second-place team again. By at least guaranteeing one victory in their two games set up for competitive balance, the Vikings will have an easier time holding off division rivals like the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions who are playing third and fourth-place schedules, respectively.
Factor in that this game might be a primetime affair and it’s even more important for the Vikings to win. It’ll be at home vs. “America’s Team.” This has late afternoon FOX or primetime written all over it. Minnesota has the better roster and it’s at home. Cousins and Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott are comparable, but this will be Cousins’ time to shine in a huge spot. He must deliver.