Running back Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota Vikings are making a strong playoff push after starting the season 1-5. (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)
- The Minnesota Vikings’ odds to make the NFL playoffs improved after a 27-24 OT win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13
- The Arizona Cardinals’ odds of reaching the postseason got worse following a 38-28 loss to the Los Angeles Rams
- The Vikings and Cardinals are both 6-6 and tied for the third and final Wild Card in the NFC
The Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings are tied for the third and final Wild Card in the NFC with 6-6 records but are going in opposite directions.
The Cardinals have lost three straight games and four of five. The Vikings have won back-to-back games and five of their last six.
Though both have the same record, the Vikings are now given better odds of reaching the playoffs.
Odds of Cardinals and Vikings Making 2020 NFL Playoffs
Odds taken Dec. 8 at FanDuel
The Cardinals were odds-on favorites to get the postseason at -126. Meanwhile, the Vikings’ odds were +208.
Murray Inconsistent in Loss
Both teams continued their divergent paths this past Sunday with the Cardinals losing at home to the Los Angeles Rams 38-28 as 2.5-point underdogs.
The defeat dropped the Cardinals two games back in the NFC West race behind the co-leading Rams and Seattle Seahawks – both 8-4 – with four games to play.
While Kyler Murray threw for three touchdown passes for the Cardinals, he completed just 21 of 39 for 173 yards. In the fourth quarter, he lost a fumble when sacked and threw an interception that was returned by 35 yards for a touchdown by Troy Hill, pushing the Rams’ lead to 38-21
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 7, 2020
Meanwhile, Jared Goff riddled the Cardinals’ defense for 351 yards passing. Darrell Henderson’s 38-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter proved pivotal as it increased the Rams’ lead to 31-21.
The Vikings slipped by the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars 27-24 in overtime at home despite being 10.5-point favorites.
Dan Bailey kicked the game-winning 23-yard field goal with 1:49 remaining after missing two extra points and a field goal earlier. The first miss, from 51 yards, came at the end of regulation and could have won the game.
Safety Harrison Smith’s interception set up Bailey’s winner.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 6, 2020
While Minnesota’s win might not have been aesthetically pleasing, it did get the Vikings to the .500 mark for the first time this season. It also sent the Jaguars to their 11th straight loss.
Rookie Justin Jefferson had nine receptions for 121 yards. Fellow wideout Adam Thielen added eight catches from 75 yards after missing one game while in COVID-19 quarantine.
A Look Ahead
The Cardinals and Vikings do not play each other in the regular season. Thus, the head-to-head tiebreaker will not apply if the two wind up tied for the third wild card.
The second tiebreaker is record within the conference. Both teams are 4-4 against NFC teams.
The third tiebreaker is best record against common opponents. The Vikings currently hold a slight edge there at 2-2 while the Cardinals are 2-3.
I deal with those NFL playoff tiebreakers and scenarios every week for our Playoff Picture, and I can tell you that what @SteveKornacki is doing at that board is very difficult!
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) December 7, 2020
The Cardinals have a somewhat more favorable schedule as their remaining opponents have a combined 21-26-1 record for a .448 winning percentage. Arizona also plays two games at home and face only one team with a winning record.
Conversely, the Vikings’ opponents have .563 winning percentage (27-21). Minnesota has only one home game left and play two teams with winning records.
Here is a look at each team’s schedule:
|Week||Arizona Cardinals||Minnesota Vikings|
|14||at Giants (5-7)||at Buccaneers (7-5)|
|15||Eagles (3-8-1)||Bears (5-7)|
|16||49ers (5-7)||at Saints (10-2)|
|17||at Rams (8-4)||at Lions (5-7)|
The Playoff Picture
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one game ahead of the Cardinals and Vikings in the wild card standings. The Buccaneers are 7-5 after dropping three of their last four games.
Meanwhile, five teams are right behind the Cardinals and Vikings with 5-7 records. That group consists of the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Football Team.
The Giants and Washington are tied for first place in the NFC East and one of the two is likely to qualify for the playoffs as the division champions.
Washington is the hottest of the 5-7 teams as it has won three games in a row, including upsetting the previously unbeaten Steelers in Pittsburgh on Monday night.
Do we have everybody’s attention now? pic.twitter.com/Qk2EKTFSz2
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) December 8, 2020
The Giants are also playing well with five wins in seven games since an 0-5 start.
However, the Bears have lost six games in a row, the Lions have dropped four of their last six and the 49ers have been beaten in four of their last five.
Most likely, either the Cardinals or Vikings will reach the playoffs but not both. Considering the teams’ recent track records, Minnesota looks like the better bet.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.