Vikings fans hoping for a quick turnaround for the Purple should keep an eye on Sunday's conference championship games.
The 49ers and Bengals – underdogs and visitors against teams they beat in the final two weeks of the regular season – finished last in their respective divisions last season.
That makes this season the fifth since 1970 in which two teams that finished last in their division went on to play in the conference championship games the following year.
It happened in 1991 (Broncos, Lions), 1996 (Jaguars, Panthers), 2008 (Ravens, Eagles) and 2017 (Jaguars, Eagles).
The 2017 Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium.
UPDATED ODDS: Point spreads, money lines, over/under
Here are the picks for Sunday's games:
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Bengals (+7) at Chiefs, 2 p.m., Ch. 4
The Chiefs are 11-1 in their last 12 games. But the loss was a 34-31 shootout in Cincinnati in Week 17. The Chiefs opened that game with five different players making five plays of 25 yards or more en route to a 28-17 halftime lead. Then the Bengals' underrated defense adjusted and shut K.C. down in the second half. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill – who combined for 246 yards and two touchdowns in last week's divisional playoff win over Buffalo — were held to just 65 combined yards on 11 catches. Meanwhile, Bengals rookie Ja'Marr Chase had 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches. So, yeah, it's tempting to finally believe in the Bengals and pick them to reach the Super Bowl. But … the Chiefs not only are at home, they're also playing their fourth straight AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium. And Patrick Mahomes is 7-1 in home playoff games. Joe Burrow and the swaggering Bengals won't be intimidated, and they won't go quietly. But, as we saw last week in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime against Buffalo's No. 1-ranked defense, Mahomes won't stop until he's made at least one more big play than Burrow. Chiefs 37, Bengals 31 OT
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
49ers (+3 ½) at Rams, 5:30 p.m., Ch. 9
There's pressure on both sides as the 49ers try to beat the Rams for a third time this season and seventh straight overall, while the Rams must reach and win the Super Bowl for this all-in, future-be-darned season to be considered a success. For the Rams to turn the tide against their division nemesis, they must have some semblance of a running game and game plan committed early on to shorter passes that allow Cooper Kupp and Co. to run after the catch. If they do that, it opens the door for Matthew Stafford's deep ball. In their two losses – 31-10 at San Francisco in Week 10 and 27-24 at home in Week 18 – the Rams averaged 58 yards rushing while Stafford threw two picks in each game. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stayed out of the way for the most part, completing 74.5% of his passes while coach Kyle Shanahan's punishing ground game and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans' pass rush took control. Deebo Samuel – the All-Pro hybrid receiver/running back – averaged 10.8 yards on 12 touches while throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass in Week 18. The 49ers ran for 135 yards on 31 carries in the first meeting and 156 yards on 44 carries in Week 18. San Francisco has the powerful, punch-you-in-the-nose game that travels well in the playoffs, having won at No. 3 seed Dallas and No. 1 seed Green Bay. It also has the confidence of having owned the Rams the past three years. 49ers 28, Rams 25
Last week straight up/vs. spread: 1-3, 2-2
Playoffs straight up/vs. spread: 5-5, 3-3
Regular season straight up/vs. the spread: 173-98-1/132-139-1.