The Vikings are still mathematically alive for the playoffs, but will need some help in the final two weeks.
Minnesota (7-8) plays its final road game of the regular season on Sunday Night Football against Green Bay. The Packers are 12-3 and currently hold the NFC's top seed.
Here's a look at where the Vikings rank heading into Week 17:
No. 18 (down 3 spots): Dan Hanzus – NFL.com
All season, the Vikings have been a fun watch because they can turn any game into a nail-biter -- whether it's against a powerhouse like the Packers or a bottom-feeder like the Lions. But being entertaining and being good are two very different things. The Vikes had the chance to alter the course of their season with a win over the Rams on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium but instead delivered a deeply uneven effort that featured critical breakdowns by the offense, defense and special teams. The inconsistencies under Mike Zimmer have become tedious to the fanbase; it's fair to wonder if it will be considered untenable by the Powers That Be.
No. 21 (down 3 spots): Frank Schwab – Yahoo! Sports
The Vikings have lost five games this season when they had a positive turnover margin, via Ben Goessling of the Star-Tribune. That seems impossible. They're the 23rd team in the Super Bowl era to lose five games in a season while winning the turnover battle, Goessling said. No wonder Vikings fans are fed up.
No. 21 (down 2 spots): Pete Prisco – CBS Sports
At 7-8, they have little room for error the rest of the way. They have to beat the Packers to survive this week.
No. 21 (down 2 spots): NFL Staff – Bleacher Report
Week 16 may have marked the end of an era of sorts in the Twin Cities.
Despite a Week 16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Minnesota Vikings are still technically alive for a playoff spot. But Minnesota would need both wins in the team's last two games and outside help. Odds are the Vikings will miss the postseason for the third time in four years.
And that may well mean the end of the line for Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
There has been no shortage of speculation about Zimmer future after eight seasons as Minnesota's head coach — speculation Zimmer has done his best to downplay. But the cold reality is the loss to the Rams sums up everything that's wrong with the Vikings — and many of the problems aren't new.
Zimmer is supposed to be a defensive-minded coach, but Minnesota's defense has ranked 27th or worse two years running. The Vikings flatly refuse to get hot or win close games — all eight losses this year are by one score, and Minnesota hasn't won three straight in well over a calendar year.
The Vikings aren't a bad team. But they aren't a good one, either. And changes need to be made to snap Minnesota from their morass of mediocrity.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Packers.
No. 20 (down 8 spots): Mitch Goldich – Sports Illustrated
For several years now, the Vikings have been the league's most unpredictable team — capable of beating anyone on any given day or choking and blowing a lead in stunning fashion. The only thing that's changed is this year 15 to 20 other teams decided they'd follow the same blueprint. Let's just stick them at No. 20 and admit they could beat the Packers to make Week 18 interesting.
No. 21 (down 3 spots): Vinnie Iyer – Sporting News
The Vikings should be a lot better than their record but their close-game failures have given way to wearing down against top opponents. The Rams knocked out their defense with both run and pass, and the Packers can do the same to finish them off in Week 17.
No. 14 (up 1 spot): Nate Davis – USA TODAY Sports
Did you know they've only lost twice in their past six trips to Lambeau Field? Just sayin' ... there's (more than) a chance.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.
No. 22 (down 3 spots): Courtney Cronin – ESPN.com
Note: ESPN looked at the non-quarterback MVP for each team. ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin went with wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
The Vikings began to turn their season around when they made a concerted effort to get the ball to Jefferson at the midway point. That led to wins over the Chargers and Packers, and it would have resulted in come-from-behind victories at Detroit and against the Rams had the rest of the team held up its end. Minnesota is 4-2 this season when Jefferson eclipses 100 yards receiving, and it's clear the young wideout — who now owns the NFL record for the most receiving yards (2,851) by a player in his first two seasons — is a franchise player the Vikings want and need to build around. Minnesota has shifted its approach and runs most of its offense through Jefferson now, with the 22-year-old accounting for over 37% of his team's receiving yards.
No. 18 (down 3 spots): Mike Florio – Pro Football Talk
Finally, they didn't blow a lead. (They didn't have a lead to blow.)