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How Did Computer Projections of Vikings Games Pan Out?

All season long, Vikings.com combed the web for weekly predictions and outside analysis. We included a pair of sites, fivethirtyeight.com and whatifsports.com that use computer simulations to forecast outcomes while minimizing subjectivity.

How did they do?

When fivethirtyeight.com gave the Vikings less than a 50 percent chance to win, Minnesota was 2-3. When the probability was 50 percent, the Vikings went 2-1, and went 7-1 when the likelihood of a win was above 50 percent.

Whatifsports.com didn't split the rail in half in any preview. The Vikings went 3-1 when the likelihood was projected at less than 50 percent and 8-4 when the projection was above 50 percent. 

As for this week, when the Vikings (11-5) host the Seahawks (10-6) in a Wild Card game at noon (CT) Sunday, the Vikings are projected to have a 44 percent chance of winning by Five Thirty Eight (down six percent from when the teams met Dec. 6) and a 39.5 percent chance by What If Sports (down 21 percentage points). Computers weren't the only prognosticators to predict the Seahawks this weekend.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the Vikings did their best to block out outside voices this season and want to replicate that this week.

The chart below shows the projections from both sites and the weekly results:

Week

Opponent

Five Thirty Eight

What If Sports

Week 1

@ 49ers, L, 20-3

34 percent

52.3 percent

Week 2

Lions, W, 26-16

50 percent

35.5 percent

Week 3

Chargers, W, 31-14

53 percent

41.5 percent

Week 4

@ Broncos, L, 23-20

23 percent

28.5 percent

Week 5

Bye

Bye

Bye

Week 6

Chiefs, W, 16-10

60 percent

51.8 percent

Week 7

@Lions, W, 28-19

50 percent

64.1 percent

Week 8

@Bears, W, 23-20

63 percent

59.2 percent

Week 9

Rams, W 21-18, OT

66 percent

56.5 percent

Week 10

@Raiders, W, 30-14

56 percent

58.9 percent

Week 11

Packers, L, 30-13

54 percent

52.1 percent

Week 12

@Falcons, W, 20-10

49 percent

54.9 percent

Week 13

Seahawks, L, 38-7

50 percent

60.5 percent

Week 14

@Cardinals, L, 23-20

24 percent

60.9 percent

Week 15

Bears, W, 38-17

73 percent

62.5 percent

Week 16

Giants, W, 49-17

67 percent

64.2 percent

Week 17

@Packers, W, 20-13

32 percent

41.6 percent

Wild Card

Seahawks

44 percent

39.5 percent

Facing another 'great' quarterback

Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune writes that the only modifier Russell Wilson needs attached to his name is the word 'great.'

*Wilson will play quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks against the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs. One week after the Vikings beat Aaron Rodgers, they should know that they are facing a quarterback this Sunday who had a better season than Rodgers, and who is playing quarterback about as well as the position can be played. *

*Russell Wilson is a great quarterback. You don't need to add "for a short guy,'' or "for a guy who runs a lot.'' You don't need to add "for a game manager,'' or "for a young guy,'' or "in the role he's asked to play.'' *

Souhan pointed out the success that Wilson has had in the past seven weeks: 24 touchdown passes, one interception and a 6-1 mark. That's without Marshawn Lynch, who is expected to return, and Jimmy Graham, who is out for the season. The success continued after rookie running back Thomas Rawls broke his ankle Dec. 13.

Running back showdown

**

Fox Sports North posts six points **every week that are keys to victory, and the top one the site listed for the Vikings is winning a marquee battle between running backs this season.

The best running back battle of Wild Card weekend will be between Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. Both players are notoriously tough runners, and the more effective ball-carrier will likely lead his team to victory on Sunday. While Peterson just claimed the 2015 NFL rushing title, Lynch should have fresher legs after sitting out since mid-November with an abdominal injury. The Vikings need their All-Pro ball-carrier to be on top of his game this Sunday.

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