EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings can only look forward with six games to play in the regular season.
Minnesota is now 5-4-1 after suffering a tough loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field during Week 11. If the season ended this week, Minnesota would sit in the second NFC Wild Card spot for a playoff berth.
The Vikings will take on two teams in the next three weeks that will be in the NFC Wild Card hunt.
Minnesota will host the Green Bay Packers (4-5-1) on Sunday Night Football at U.S. Bank Stadium this week, before going out of conference to visit the Patriots (7-3) on Dec. 2 and then heading to Seattle to take on the Seahawks (5-5) on Monday Night Football on Dec. 10.
"I didn't believe it when I heard it, but if the season ended today we'd be in the playoffs," Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said in on his weekly podcast (The Officialize Experience) from the TCO Performance Center on Monday. "It's about getting into the dance because anything can happen when you get there.
The Carolina Panthers (6-4) sit in the first NFC Wild Card spot, one half-game ahead of the Vikings. Minnesota trails the Chicago Bears (7-3) by a game-and-a-half in the NFC North.
"It doesn't really mean a whole lot with six games left, but the fact is we put ourselves in a position to be in if the season ended today," Cousins said. "That means that we now have a six-game season to stay there and hopefully move up in such a way that we can get a home playoff game."
The Packers are coming off of a prime-time loss of their own where they surrendered a 27-24 defeat to the Seahawks on Thursday night.
Experts from across the internet updated their power rankings lists, heading into the Vikings second-straight prime-time matchup.
See where experts ranked the Vikings heading into the rivalry matchup:
Last Week's Rank: 8 – Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
Save for a flurry of points down the stretch, the Vikes were overmatched in Chicago, as evidenced by the fact that, midway through the fourth quarter, they had managed 129 total yards of offense against a stout Bears defense. Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray saw a deep-dish pizza's worth of Chicago's front seven on just about every carry, mustering a scant 17 yards on 13 carries. Kirk Cousins started dealing late, but it wasn't enough following two earlier interceptions, including a pick-six. Now the Vikings must navigate their way through treacherous schedule waters: vs. Packers, at Patriots and at Seahawks over the next three weeks. They must win two of those three -- otherwise, winning the NFC North is likely out of the question.
Last Week's Rank: 8 – ESPN.com
Thankful for: The receiving duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Minnesota's offense runs through Thielen and Diggs, who act as interchangeable chess pieces in John DeFilippo's system and allow Kirk Cousins to orchestrate a consistent passing attack. Thielen became the first Vikings player with consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons since Randy Moss, and by the end of the 2018 season the Vikings could boast two 1,000-yard receivers (Diggs has 713). It would be the first time the franchise has achieved such a feat since Moss and Cris Carter each surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in 2000. -- Courtney Cronin
Last Week's Rank: 7 – YAHOO! Sports, Frank Schwab
You can't lay all of the Vikings' issues at Kirk Cousins' feet. Though, they paid him all that money to play better in games like Sunday night. Whoever you want to blame, the Vikings were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders, and they're barely .500, probably resigned to chasing a Wild Card spot and having to beat the Rams and Saints on the road in back-to-back weeks to make a Super Bowl. Not good.
Last Week's Rank: 7 - Bleacher Report Staff
Before the season, the Minnesota Vikings were a trendy pick to win the NFC North. The Vikings were also the highest-ranked team in the division in the Week 1 set of these power rankings—a ranking they've maintained most of the season.
That's no longer the case, because it's looking less and less like Minnesota is going to win this division.
By virtue of Minnesota's five-point loss in Chicago, the Vikings now sit 1.5 games back of the Bears with a head-to-head loss. Minnesota was simply outplayed on both sides of the ball at Soldier Field.
Offensively, the Minnesota ground game was nonexistent, managing only 22 yards on 14 carries. The pass protection wasn't that much better. Kirk Cousins was sacked twice and threw an equal number of interceptions, including a back-breaking pick-six in the second half. Defensively, Minnesota's vaunted third-down defense allowed the Bears to convert an even 50 percent of the time.
The Vikings are a good team. But the one-dimensional nature of the offense has showed in a big way against the NFL's elite. The Vikings have now faced all of the NFC's leading contenders in the Bears, Saints and Rams.
Minnesota lost all three games.
Last Week's Rank: 7 – Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer
The Vikings saw their offensive line and running game issues get exposed again by the Bears' mighty front. There's still too much on Kirk Cousins and the defense to be impeccable, which they were not.
Seven turnovers the past three games. All of 22 rushing yards in Sunday night's loss.
Last Week's Rank: 6 – Sports Illustrated, MMQB Staff
The Vikings are currently clinging to the No. 6 seed, which would likely mean a rematch in Chicago. But that would be a tough route to go for a team that learned the value of home-field advantage in the playoffs as well as any team last year.
Last Week's Rank: 7 – Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune
Twenty-two rushing yards in loss at Soldier Field was their third-worst ground performance in 20 seasons.
Last Week's Rank: 8 – Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
The playoffs start, as a practical matter, on Sunday night.
Last Week's Rank: 7 – Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
They have a big game this week with the Packers. They better hope the offense plays a lot better than it did against the Bears.
Last Week's Rank: 11 – Mark Maske, Washington Post
No one is saying it's all Kirk Cousins's fault. But he was signed to be the final piece of a Super Bowl puzzle in Minnesota.
Last Week's Rank: 7 – theScore Staff
Who are these Vikings? Minnesota is a top-five team in terms of talent that just hasn't fully clicked in 2018. The Vikings have taken a shocking step back from last year's dominance.