EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer knows the playoffs have already started for the Vikings.
Minnesota is now 8-6-1 after defeating the Detroit Lions at Ford Field during Week 16.
"It's going to be a heightened sense of urgency," Zimmer said. "Really, for us, the playoffs have already started. We know that we have to win this game in order to get in."
If the season ended this week, Minnesota would earn the second NFC Wild Card spot for a playoff berth.
With one game to play, the Vikings will get into the playoffs with a win over the Chicago Bears or a Philadelphia Eagles loss at Washington.
The Vikings are a half of a game behind the Seattle Seahawks (9-6) for the first NFC Wild Card Spot. Seattle is closing its season against Arizona (3-12).
Chicago is coming off of a 14-9 victory in San Francisco.
Experts from across the internet updated their power rankings lists, heading into the Vikings road matchup.
See where experts ranked the Vikings this week:
Last Week's Rank: 13 – ESPN.com
Non-QB MVP: DE Danielle Hunter. He went from underrated up-and-comer to elite pass-rusher during his breakout season in 2018. The fourth-year defensive end is earning every penny of the mega-contract extension he signed this offseason and currently ranks No. 2 in sacks (14.5) behind Aaron Donald. Hunter may be young, but he is one of the most important players this franchise boasts, regardless of position. What he does makes the entire defense go, from the front end to the back seven. -- Courtney Cronin
Last Week's Rank: 14 – YAHOO! Sports, Frank Schwab
The Vikings probably could have used a 49ers win on Sunday. That would have ended the Bears' hopes of getting a first-round bye, and presumably Chicago would have rested starters. Now Minnesota plays a Bears team that will be taking this game seriously, and handled the Vikings on a Sunday night earlier this season.
Last Week's Rank: 13 - Bleacher Report Staff
Last Week: 13
Week 16 Result: Won at Detroit 27-9
That the Minnesota Vikings were led to victory in Detroit in Week 15 by a guy named Rudolph is just about the most Christmas thing ever.
But Kyle Rudolph's huge game (9/122/2) wasn't the only story from Minnesota's big win. Or the biggest one.
The Vikings appear to be figuring things out.
In back-to-back convincing wins over the last two weeks, the Vikings have looked like the Super Bowl contender we expected them to be. The offense has been balanced and prolific. The defense has been stout and opportunistic.
Gagnon shared a fun fact about this streaky team:
"The Vikings really bounced back from that Monday night stinker two weeks ago in Seattle, crushing half-decent opponents on consecutive Sundays to give themselves some momentum for a potential Super Bowl run in this wide-open season. If only they could keep playing matinees on local television, because they're 5-0 with an average margin of victory of 17.8 in their last five 1 p.m. ET kickoffs. Meanwhile, they're 1-4 this season on national TV."
However, despite playing arguably their best football of the season, nothing is guaranteed yet. With Philadelphia also in the mix for the NFC's remaining Wild Card spot, the Vikings need a third straight win in Week 17 to advance to the tournament...
...Over a Chicago Bears team fighting for a first-round bye that thumped the Vikings in Chicago a few weeks ago.
At least it's not a night game.
Last Week's Rank: 14 – Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer
The Vikings have quietly put together two strong performances to fix the things that have ailed them. While everyone's focused on Foles' magic in Philly, there's a good chance it's rendered totally moot because of how Minnesota is playing.
Last Week's Rank: 12 – Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
The Vikes inch closer to a playoff berth, their destiny squarely in their hands. With the Bears coming to town and their sights on a possible first-round bye, Minnesota will have a major league tussle in Week 17. It's no exaggeration to say that it could be the most important game of the Mike Zimmer era. Last year's NFC championship appearance felt like a gift. But the pressure to get back to the playoffs -- and make it to Atlanta in February -- has been mounting ever since Minnesota shelled out a truckload of money for Kirk Cousins this offseason, a move that was universally seen as an upgrade at the position. For his part, Cousins looked the part, throwing for three touchdowns in a near-perfect ( and lucky) performance Sunday after the Lions had charged out of the gate to a 9-0 lead.
If you think Week 17 is kind of game Minnesota paid Kirk Cousins to win ... welp, it's actually kind of game they paid him to render meaningless. Alas ...
Last Week's Rank: 11 – Sports Illustrated, MMQB Staff
Last Week's rank: 11
Points in poll: 131
Highest-place vote: 9 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 15 (1)
Last week: Win 27-9 at Detroit
Next week: vs. Chicago
Last Week's Rank: 14 – Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
The playoffs hinge on Kirk, not Kurt, showing up in Week 17.
Last Week's Rank: 13 – Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
If they beat the Bears this week, they are in the playoffs. If not, they might be home.