The Vikings had what felt like a “swing” game against the Eagles on Sunday, and they wound up winning emphatically. There’s another opportunity Sunday at Detroit — where a win over the mad Lions would leave Minnesota needing only a Thursday night home win over Washington to close out the first half of the year 6-2.
That sort of first-half mark figured at the beginning of the season to be a prerequisite for any chance at the playoffs given how tough the second half of the schedule looked.
But while it’s still probably the tougher of the two halves given all the prime time matchups and long road trips, the quality of opponents doesn’t seem quite as daunting as originally advertised.
The outlook on the gauntlet of road games at Kansas City, Dallas, Seattle and the L.A. Chargers — all playoff teams a season ago — has changed recently. The Chiefs have lost two in a row, both at home. Dallas has lost three in a row, including a stunner at the Jets. Seattle is a legit 5-1, but four of its wins have been by four points or fewer. The Chargers, a 12-4 team last season, are 2-4 and have lost their last three home games.
It’s certainly possible all four will be on an upswing by the time the Vikings face them. It’s also worth noting that three of the four are night games and that playing on the West Coast tends to be hard.
But it also feels like a split of those four is far from impossible. And if the Vikings could do that, we might be talking about Weeks 16 and 17 (home games against the Packers and Bears) being part of a push for the NFC North title instead of just a wild card.