A win in Detroit on Thursday would move their prospects of a NFC North title to the edge of certainty, but as it stands now, the Vikings’ prospects of starting the playoffs at U.S .Bank Stadium — or even doing so after a week off — are fairly strong.
According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings enter Thursday’s game with an 83.8 percent chance of winning their division, and a 95.4 percent chance of making the playoffs. The 8-2 Vikings, who are currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC, have a 44.8 percent chance of a first-round bye.
Using a weighted version of its Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average metric, the site gives the Vikings an average of 11.8 wins over 50,000 simulations, It actually gives the New Orleans Saints — who are also 8-2 — an average of 12.2 wins, and thus a slightly better chance of securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC (18.2 percent to 16.3). But the Vikings, of course, already have secured a tiebreaker advantage over the Saints by virtue of their Week 1 win at U.S. Bank Stadium, and would be seeded ahead of New Orleans if both teams wind up with the same record.
Per Football Outsiders, the Vikings have a 28.5 percent chance at the No. 2 seed and a 27.8 percent chance of starting the playoffs at home as the No. 3 seed. They’d also host a wild-card round game with the No. 4 seed, and they have a 10.8 percent chance of landing there. Their odds of a wild-card berth as the No. 5 or No. 6 seed are 5.6 and 6.5 percent, respectively.
Things can change quickly, of course — the Vikings had a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 57 percent chance at home-field advantage after Week 5 last year, and we all know how that turned out. A Vikings loss tomorrow at Ford Field would keep the NFC North title as a two-team race with the Lions, who’d then have a tiebreaker advantage on the Vikings (along with an easier schedule the rest of the way).
But as things sit right now, the Vikings’ playoff positioning is in strong shape. If they ace a difficult three-game road trip, they’ll come home with the NFC North title all locked up.