For the second time under head coach Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings are headed to the postseason. But for the Vikings, this postseason will be unlike any other. Not only will the Vikings have a first-round bye to start the playoffs, but they will be playing for a chance to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Sunday morning, the Vikings were the second-best favorite to win the Super Bowl at online Sportsbook Bovada. The Patriots are the favorite at +240, but the Vikings are next at +375.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Vikings, who were not without controversy on their way to the postseason. Minnesota started the season with Sam Bradford under center, and had to insert Case Keenum into the lineup after Bradford’s inevitable injury. Keenum went on to have his best season as a pro, and was able to keep Teddy Bridgewater recovering on the sidelines.
The Vikings have also changed their approach on the ground. They dealt with the loss of first-round pick Dalvin Cook, who was the lone casualty of the star rookie running backs entering the league. The Vikings hummed along fine without Cook, relying on the two-headed attack of Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon.
Whoever faces the Vikings, their top mission on defense will be stopping Adam Thielen, who has come out of nowhere to be Minnesota’s top offensive weapon. Thielen nearly hit 100 receptions for the first time in his career this season, and has been successful in man coverage all year.
Of course, these players don’t even represent the strength of the Vikings. Minnesota enters the postseason with arguably the best defense in the league, allowing less yards than any other team. They can succeed rushing four, and they win in coverage. They have linebackers that can both cover and tackle. They are, for the most part, healthy and without holes.
Vikings Playoff Scenarios:
The playoff bracket is re-seeded after the Wild Card round, so it’s tough to predict who the Vikings will see in two weeks. Fortunately for us and for the Vikings, they have faced all four potential opponents earlier in the regular season. They recorded victories over the Saints, Rams and Falcons, and were defeated by the Panthers in Carolina during Week 14.
Of those three teams, the biggest threat to Minnesota are the Panthers and Rams. Carolina is hot entering the postseason, but they would struggle on the road against a tough Vikings defense. The Rams struggled in Minnesota earlier this year, but a good Rams coaching staff will surely make adjustments for a rematch.
Vikings Playoff Schedule
Divisional Round: January 13th or 14th
Conference Championship: January 21st
Super Bowl LII in Minnesota: February 4th