There are plenty of lists this time of year, but we thought we'd tick off what most helps the Vikings in Week 16, with regards to Minnesota (7-7) making the NFC Playoffs for a second consecutive season.
- Business priority
First and foremost, the Vikings need to defeat the Lions (10-4) at noon (CT) Sunday.
Doing so prs the possibility of repeating as NFC North Champions, even if that prospect also requires Minnesota winning out against the Packers and at Detroit, as well as the Lions losing at the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.
Beyond that is the fact that the Vikings don't have much breathing room on the playoff-side of the peloton.
Minnesota enters Friday as the No. 7 seed after the Los Angeles Rams (8-7) moved up to the No. 6 spot by defeating the New Orleans Saints (7-8) on Thursday Night Football.
The Vikings in the now (and probably the long term) would have been better off with the Saints winning that one because of Minnesota's head-to-head edge over New Orleans.
Detroit would have clinched a playoff berth with a New Orleans win in Los Angeles and still will with a win or tie against Minnesota. A loss or tie by Seattle also will guarantee the Lions a postseason appearance.
Simply winning this week won't punch a ticket to the playoffs, but it will allow Minnesota to maintain its say in securing a postseason destination.
- Little Help, Please?
The Vikings will benefit if the recently eliminated Titans (5-9) can topple the Seahawks (7-7) at noon (CT) Sunday. Seattle's late rally against Philadelphia on Monday set it up for a potential playoff push against three teams that are a combined 15-27 entering Week 16 (Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Arizona).
Because of the potential importance of Pittsburgh (7-7) having a lot to play for in Week 17 at Seattle, the Vikings may want to add a Steelers win against the Bengals (8-6) at 3:30 p.m. (CT) this Saturday.
- Better off if Bucs…?
Fresh off defeating the Packers at Lambeau Field last week, the Buccaneers (7-7) will host the Jaguars (8-6) in a 3:05 p.m. (CT) Sunday game.
Minnesota will be better off if Tampa Bay wins the NFC South since the Bucs have a head-to-head tiebreaker from Week 1 if those two teams were vying for a Wild Card spot.
The Vikings have head-to-head edges on the Saints and Falcons (6-8) if needed for a Wild Card tiebreaker.
- The Long Game
The Rams, who have won five of six games to reverse a 3-6 start before their bye, will get extra rest before heading across the country to visit the New York Giants (5-9) in Week 17.
The Giants did the Vikings a solid by defeating the Packers in Week 14, but since that's their only win against a team that entered Week 16 with more than four wins, the Vikings might not want to rely on New York topping Los Angeles.
Thus, the Vikings might benefit the most if the 49ers are still trying to secure the No. 1 overall seed in Week 18 against the Rams.
Because San Francisco (11-3) can clinch the top seed with one more win and one more loss each by 10-4 Dallas, Philadelphia and Detroit, a win by the Ravens (11-3) at the 49ers at 7:15 p.m. (CT) Monday, and wins by Dallas at Miami (10-4) at 3:25 p.m. (CT) Sunday and by Philadelphia against the Giants, likely best benefit Minnesota.
- Eyeing up Packers & Panthers
Is it better for Minnesota to host Green Bay (6-8) after a Packers win at Carolina (2-12) or a third consecutive loss?
Who knows? But basic math says more losses by people closer to the Vikings in the standings provides help in the sprint for wins.
Regardless of what happens at noon (CT) in Carolina this week, the Vikings likely need to win at least two of their final three games and may or may not be in position to knock the Packers from postseason contention in Week 17.
- The Building Bears
This might be getting greedy, but with Chicago (5-9) holding Carolina's first-round pick and its own in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Vikings could indirectly benefit in April from the Bears winning against the Cardinals (3-11) at 3:25 p.m. (CT) and moving farther down the draft board with their own pick.