During their 1968 season, the Vikings entered unfamiliar territory.
In its eighth overall season as a team — and the second under the late Legendary Head Coach Bud Grant — Minnesota had a chance to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Note: In 1964, the Vikings tied the Packers for second place in the Western Conference, but Green Bay won the tiebreaker via point differential in the season series and earned a berth in the third-place Playoff Bowl.
In order to make the postseason, the 7-6 Vikings had to not only defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on the road, but also needed the Chicago Bears — who owned an identical 7-6 mark and the tiebreaker over Minnesota — to lose to the Packers in Chicago.
Minnesota edged Philadelphia 24-17 before huddling around the radio to listen to the ending of the Bears-Packers game. Chicago nearly rallied from a 28-10 fourth quarter deficit, but Green Bay held on for a 28-27 victory, giving the Vikings their first-ever division title and a trip to the playoffs.
On Sunday, the Vikings will be in a similar situation. Minnesota (7-9) heads into its regular-season finale needing a road victory and some help to make the postseason for a second consecutive season.
The Vikings must defeat Detroit at Ford Field, and get wins from Chicago (coincidentally over Green Bay) and Arizona, along with either a win by Atlanta or Carolina. According to Next Gen Stats, Minnesota currently has just a 3-percent chance of reaching the playoffs, but a win over the Lions increases the number to 9-percent.
Detroit (11-5) earned its first division title in 30 years and won the NFC North (formed in 2002) for the first time in franchise history with a 30-24 victory over Minnesota in Week 16. The Lions still have a chance at the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, but need the Cowboys and Eagles to lose their games.
The Vikings and Lions have met 124 times in their history, with Minnesota holding an 80-42-2 advantage. Minnesota is also 36-25-1 on the road against the Lions, claiming four straight victories at Ford Field between 2017 and 2020 (the 2020 game was played on Jan. 3, 2021).
The Vikings have lost three of their past four meetings with the Lions, including the past two matchups.
Let's see who the experts are picking to win the game:
Lions 28, Vikings 21 – Gennaro Filice, NFL.com
Week 18 is largely driven by motivation — or a lack thereof. Technically, both of these teams will take the field at noon CT on Sunday with something to play for, but the Vikings need a lot of help, facing the longest odds to make the playoffs of any team still alive. The Lions have an outside chance to vault into the No. 2 seed, but they'll most likely stay put at No. 3. Regardless, Detroit's still fuming over this past Saturday night's controversial finish in Dallas, with Head Coach Dan Campbell fueled by"controlled fury," saying the starters will play in the regular-season finale at Ford Field. Just how long Campbell rolls with the 1s is anyone's guess, but I'm confident this Motor City madman will get the most out of everyone wearing Honolulu Blue, players and fans alike.
Lions 31, Vikings 18 – Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
The Vikings still have an outside chance to make the playoffs, while the Lions have already clinched a spot and could just be playing for a higher seed. The Lions lost a tough one last week at Dallas, but back home they will get right for the playoffs with an impressive showing here against a Vikings team with a mess at quarterback.
Lions 23, Vikings 14 – Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
The Vikings are much like the Bengals of the AFC. They tried to keep it together without their difference-making reliable QB and they just did it with a revolving door of quarterbacks vs. one young backup. But they simply couldn't unlock the passing game the same way and the defense broke down in trying to play good complementary football. The Lions still have an outside shot at the No. 2 seed to avoid old friend Matthew Stafford and the Rams and you better believe Dan Campbell will make them finish strong to be playoff-ready.
Lions 31, Vikings 21 – Bill Bender, Sporting News
The Lions will have a first-round playoff game no matter what – but there is a chance to move up into the No. 2 seed. Minnesota's quarterback carousel took a turn for the worse against the Packers. Look for Detroit to create some momentum for the postseason – even if the starters are pulled early. The Lions have covered in four of their last five games.
0 of 7 experts pick the Vikings, The MMQB
0 of 1 expert (9 of 10 total had not submitted as of publication time) pick the Vikings, ESPN
2 of 12 experts pick the Vikings, The Athletic