The 4-Item Checklist That Must Happen for the Vikings to Make the Playoffs

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates wide receiver K.J. Osborn's (17) touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

While Minnesota’s Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers was a devastating one, it didn’t eliminate all playoff hopes for the team.

The Vikings still have a path to the No. 7 seed in the NFC if absolutely everything breaks their way in Week 18. Here is a look at the 4-item checklist that must play out for Minnesota to sneak into the tournament next week.

Vikings Win at Lions

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) reacts while being chased by Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone (34) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost, the Vikings must do what they couldn’t inside U.S. Bank Stadium and find a way to defeat the Detroit Lions. The Vikings looked utterly outmatched by Detroit at times in Week 16, but still, they only lost that game by six points.

Because of this, it isn’t entirely unrealistic for Minnesota to pull off a victory, and in some ways, it would be the most Vikings thing possible to win this game and move down the draft board. Nick Mullens threw four interceptions in that first matchup against Detroit, so the Vikings will need a much more efficient game out of their quarterback this time around.

Buccaneers OR Saints Lose

4-Item Checklist
Nov 5, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second half at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The second part of this checklist involves two NFC South teams hoping to clinch their own playoff berths this weekend. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints sit at 8-8 heading into the final weekend, and the Vikings need one of those two teams to lose in order to keep their hopes alive.

Tampa Bay is set to take on the Carolina Panthers this weekend while New Orleans will play the Atlanta Falcons. Considering Atlanta still has their own outside shot at the playoffs if both the Bucs and Saints lose, that is the more likely way for Minnesota to stay alive.

Packers Lose vs. Bears

Dec 24, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) looks to pass in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have a Week 18 game at home against an NFC North opponent to clinch a playoff berth. Sound familiar? It should because this is the exact position that the Packers found themselves in last season against the Detroit Lions.

This situation feels eerily similar to last year’s where the Chicago Bears, who started the season 2-7, have rattled off five wins in their last seven games to finish the season near .500. Last year, the Lions started 1-6 before winning seven of their final nine games, including a Week 18 win over these Packers. We’ll see if Jordan Love can do what Aaron Rodgers couldn’t, but the Vikings need Green Bay to lose on Sunday to remain hopeful for a playoff spot.

Seahawks Lose at Cardinals

Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) embraces wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) following a touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

And finally, we head out west for the last portion of the Vikings’ path towards the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks are yet another 8-8 team heading into the final weekend of the regular season, and they conclude the year with a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals sit at 4-12 on the season, but they have been playing some better football since Kyler Murray returned as their quarterback. Arizona has won two of its past four games, including a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17. They actually played a pretty competitive game against Seattle in Week 7 even being on the road and without Murray, so this could be a nailbiter for Seahawks fans and Vikings fans alike.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.