If the Vikings are going to crawl back into any sort of realistic playoff position, they are going to have to win almost every game left on their schedule AND probably still get some help from teams above them faltering in the standings.
Sunday was pretty brutal from that standpoint, though it looked promising for a little while. Jacksonville held a late lead against Green Bay in what would have been a stunning upset … only to have the Packers rally for a 24-20 win.
Perhaps the bigger blow came in the Buffalo vs. Arizona game. In a back-and-forth game with plenty of drama, the Bills went ahead 30-26 on a beautiful lunging touchdown catch by Stefon Diggs — yes, the old friend of the Vikings — with just 34 seconds left.
An AFC team knocking off what looks to be one of the more vulnerable NFC playoff contenders would have been a nice gift for the Vikings. A Cardinals loss would have put them at 5-4, giving the Vikings a shot at narrowing the gap to just one game with a win at Chicago tonight.
But … you probably know the rest. The Cardinals moved the ball to midfield in the closing seconds. And Kyler Murray’s desperate, scrambling heave into the end zone — where DeAndre Hopkins was surrounded by three Buffalo defenders — was somehow pulled in by Hopkins.
Ballgame. 32-30. And a blow to the Vikings.
Before the weekend started, FiveThirtyEight gave Minnesota a 29% chance of making the playoffs. That has dipped to 25% after the Cardinals win, the Packers win, the Saints win and the Rams beating Seattle (leaving both of them with six wins).
Football Outsiders, which was already less optimistic in its projections, dropped the Vikings from 17% to 11.7%.
It was a fantastic catch by Diggs. It was an unreal catch by Hopkins. And the net result is the Vikings needing a win Monday even more than they did when Sunday started.