You Can Count the Vikings “Magic Number” on One Hand

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) against the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings won again this past Sunday, and each of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears lost. Because of that, the Vikings have a ridiculously low “magic number” to clinch the NFC North.

In fact, halfway through the season, their magic number is miniscule enough that it can be counted on one hand. Heading into Week 10, the Vikings magic number sits at five.

A team’s “magic number” is determined by the combined amount of team wins and opponent losses said team needs in order to clinch a division. So, because the Vikings won, and both the Bears and Packers lost, the Vikings number decreased from seven to five this week.

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Assuming that Green Bay emerges as the second-place team in the division, Minnesota needs five wins, five Green Bay losses, or some combination in between in order to clinch their first NFC North title since 2017.

Now sitting at 3-6 after a horrifying loss to the Detroit Lions, here is the Packers remaining schedule for the rest of 2022:

  • Week 10 vs. Cowboys
  • Week 11 vs. Titans
  • Week 12 @ Eagles
  • Week 13 @ Bears
  • Week 15 vs. Rams
  • Week 16 @ Dolphins
  • Week 17 vs. Vikings
  • Week 18 vs. Lions

Five of the Packers final eight opponents currently have winning records, including their next three. That said, given this massive lead that Minnesota has built in the division, Vikings fans may find themselves in a precarious situation where they have to cheer for the Packers.

This is especially the case against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. If the Vikings are going to catch up and get clinch the top seed in the NFC, they need Philly to lose at least two games. And, looking at the Vikings remaining schedule, it would be preferable that the Eagles lose even more games. Unfortunately, the Vikings remaining schedule doesn’t look much easier than the Packers:

  • Week 10 @ Bills
  • Week 11 vs. Cowboys
  • Week 12 vs. Patriots
  • Week 13 vs. Jets
  • Week 14 @ Lions
  • Week 15 vs. Colts
  • Week 16 vs. Giants
  • Week 17 @ Packers
  • Week 18 @ Bears

Like the Packers, five of Minnesota’s final nine opponents have winning records, and once again, this includes the next three. However, there’s an argument to be made that the Vikings schedule is slightly harder given that they have all three of their road divisional games remaining as well as games against all three New York-affiliated teams.

Regardless, assuming the Vikings aren’t complete frauds, there should be a path for them to clinch this division relatively soon. If they continue this hot streak, and the Packers stay cold, there’s even a chance it gets done by Thanksgiving.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.