In a sense, the Vikings control their own destiny; win all (or most) of those division games and they will be in great shape. To do that, though, they will be relying heavily on one specific player.
It's no great surprise that the player is the quarterback. When he's on, the offense moves the ball and keeps the defense off the field. Without him playing to full capacity, though, the team is completely different.
Yes, the Vikings' season hinges largely on Jay Cutler.
If you watched the Bears play last night, this much is clear: Chicago is not a playoff team when Cutler is out. They proved it last season. They're proving it again this year with Jason Campbell at the helm.
Cutler, out with a concussion, is allegedly "looking good" to play next Sunday against the Vikings, according to head coach Lovie Smith. But as we all know, head injuries are tricky things. One good day can lead to three bad days. Cutler could play Sunday; he could miss a couple more games. He could be out for the year. If he misses both games against the Vikings in the next few weeks, your purple really ought to win both. Split the Packers games, find one more win out of the Texans and St. Louis, and we're talking 10-6.
If Cutler plays and is effective in both games, everything changes.