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NFL Power Rankings: Vikings Slide Entering Week 18

The Vikings have endured a lot in their 2023 season.

But despite numerous injuries throughout its roster, multiple quarterback changes and trouble with turnovers, Minnesota still has an opportunity to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

Although the Vikings (7-9) have just a 3-percent chance of getting to the postseason after a 33-10 loss to Green Bay on Sunday Night Football, Minnesota can make it under the following scenario:

The Vikings must defeat Detroit in Week 18, plus get an Arizona win against Seattle and a Chicago win at Green Bay. If all three of those outcomes align, Minnesota also needs either an Atlanta win at New Orleans OR a Carolina win against Tampa Bay.

If the Vikings make the playoffs, they would join some rare company. Minnesota would become just the seventh team in NFL history to qualify for the postseason with a losing record. The other six teams are:

1982 Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions (both teams had 4-5 records during a season that featured a 57-day players' strike and an expanded playoff field to 16 teams)

2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9)

2014 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)

2020 Washington Football Team (7-9)

2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)

Of those six teams, four had a losing record and a negative point differential, but still qualified for the playoffs: Cleveland (-42), Seattle (-97), Carolina (-35) and Tampa Bay (-45).

Last season, Minnesota became the first team in NFL history to win at least 13 games with a negative point differential (-3). Since 1966, 53 teams have made the playoffs despite owning a negative point differential, including six Vikings teams (1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2022).

Four other teams besides the Vikings (-8 this season) are fighting for a playoff spot while having a negative point differential, including Pittsburgh (-27), Indianapolis (-15), Atlanta (-21) and Seattle (-39).

Minnesota's loss to Green Bay dropped the Vikings in this week's Power Rankings. Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 18:

No. 21 (down 3 spots): Eric Edholm,

Transcribing the Week 18 scenarios that would allow the Vikings to back-door their way into the playoffs would use up most of my word count, so let's get down to some raw facts. The Vikings shorthanded defense might have been the biggest culprit in Sunday's crushing loss to the Packers, but that unit has banked enough cred with the wholesale improvements (without a massive talent increase) it's made since last year. No, we all know that the Vikings QB situation after Kirk Cousins' season-ending Achilles injury was the real underlying issue, leading to a weekly Press Your Luck-style game show for Kevin O'Connell to land on an able replacement. Unfortunately, [O'Connell] hit too many whammies down the stretch, and the wheel was still spinning Monday, when no starter had yet been named for the regular-season finale. If you're a Vikings fan who was in their feels watching a shirtless Cousins lead the "SKOL" chant before Sunday's game, you're probably not alone. Is there a chance he's back as QB1 in 2024? A month ago, I'm not sure what answer I'd have given, but now? Absolutely yes.

No. 21 (down 3 spots): Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Losing to the Packers pretty much ends [the Vikings] playoff chances. They have quarterback issues that magnify how much they miss Kirk Cousins.

No. 22 (down 4 spots): Josh Kendall, The Athletic

Vikings [Head] Coach Kevin O'Connell is 17-9 with [Kirk] Cousins as his starting quarterback. He is 3-5 without Cousins and is now very aware of what life is like in the NFL when you're in quarterback limbo. Minnesota has cycled through Jaren Hall, Joshua Dobbs and Nick Mullens since Cousins tore his Achilles. That memory is going to loom large when Cousins, who will be a free agent, asks for his next deal.

No. 21 (down 2 spots): NFL Staff, Bleacher Report

Barring a miracle, the Minnesota Vikings are going to miss the playoffs in 2023. And while it isn't the only reason (or even the biggest), Kevin O'Connell's decision to start rookie Jaren Hall on Sunday night may have been the straw that broke the Vikings backs.

Simply put, Hall was awful against the Packers — five completions in 10 attempts for 67 yards and an interception. By the time the Vikings went to Nick Mullens in the second half, the game (and likely Minnesota's postseason aspirations) were over.

"The Vikings quarterback carousel led the offense into total disarray, and the club laid an egg in a crucial Sunday Night Football matchup with the Packers, scoring just 10 points in a blowout loss," [Bleacher Report NFL analyst Maurice] Moton said. "Whether the Vikings trot out Nick Mullens, Jaren Hall or Joshua Dobbs in Week 18 against the Detroit Lions, they're unlikely to get the most out of wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison. You probably won't see the Vikings in the top half of these power rankings again until they re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins or find his potential successor."

Minnesota's quarterback situation is going to be one of the more interesting in the league in the offseason — especially with Cousins recovering from a torn Achilles.

No. 23 (down 2 spots): Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

The Vikings, like the Bengals, tried to survive as an offensive-minded playoff team as long as possible without Kirk Cousins. Now they must decide if this season proved they need to bring back Cousins badly or provide further evidence of needing to hastened a more complete rebuild.

No. 22 (down 7 spots): Nate Davis, USA Today Sports

Not a whole lot has gone according to plan in 2023 – but undrafted LB Ivan Pace, Jr., has been a notable exception.

No. 21 (down 4 spots): Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports

Going to rookie Jaren Hall in what amounted to a must-win game was always risky, and it turned out as bad as it could have been with the Vikings getting blown out in the first half and having to go back to Nick Mullens. The Vikings offseason will be spent wondering what might have been if Kirk Cousins stayed healthy