There is a month left in the NFL season, which means it’s essentially a four-game sprint for teams in playoff contention who are trying to make it to the dance.
The Vikings are certainly in the mix heading into the final quarter of the season, as Minnesota currently occupies the final Wild Card with a 6-5-1 record.
Minnesota is still in contention with the 8-4 Bears for the NFC North title, and the Vikings are also battling other non-division leaders such as Seattle (7-5), Carolina (6-6), Philadelphia (6-6) and Washington (6-6) for potential playoff spots.
NFL Network reporters Gregg Rosenthal and Tom Pelissero offered their takes on who will make it to the playoffs, and both bought the Vikings as playoff contenders.
“I’ll also buy on the Vikings,” Pelissero said. “If they can get into January, [they’re] a dangerous team just because of the way they play defense. Still one of the best in the league on third down and in the red zone … two key areas.”
Minnesota’s defense ranks first in the NFL with a third-down percentage of 29.9, and the unit is second in the league by allowing touchdowns just 45 percent of the times that opponents reach the red zone.
Rosenthal also had Minnesota making the playoffs for the second straight season, and third time in four years.
“You look at the schedule, and I think you can see a couple of wins,” Rosenthal said. “Even if they don’t win this week in Seattle, I think they get to eight wins.
“I think they’re going to get in with eight wins,” Rosenthal added. “That tie they had against the Packers helps get them into the playoffs.”
The duo also had Seattle making the playoffs as a Wild Card team, as the Rams have already clinched the NFC West. The full video can be seen here.
The Vikings will alternate road and home games to end the season.
Minnesota is at Seattle on Monday Night Football in Week 14 before coming home to host the Dolphins in Week 15. The Vikings then go to Detroit before playing at U.S. Bank Stadium in the regular-season finale against Chicago.
Ham happy to help in any way possible
C.J. Ham is undoubtedly one of the unsung heroes of the Vikings offense as a guy who can run, catch and block.
The Vikings fullback is known to do the dirty work, and he brings a blue-collar work ethic that has helped him go from being an undrafted free agent to an integral piece of Minnesota’s offense.
Dane Mizutani of the Pioneer Press recently caught up with Ham and chatted with the Minnesota native about his journey and role with the Vikings this far in 2018.
Undrafted in 2016 despite a productive career at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., he eventually stuck with the Vikings. After parlaying a tryout at the rookie minicamp into a spot on the practice squad, he was promoted to the active roster before the final game of his rookie season.
Since then, Ham has become a staple, carving out a niche on special teams and as the Vikings’ starting fullback.
While his offensive snap counts have actually decreased under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Ham’s overall usage has increased, particularly when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield. He already has set new career highs in targets (15), receptions (11), and receiving yards (85).
“It’s awesome that the coaching staff trusts me enough to put the ball in my hands every once in a while,” Ham said, adding that he prides himself on being versatile. “It’s been awesome to have an opportunity to make plays.”
Ham has 12 career carries for 20 yards and a touchdown.