DETROIT -- After the Vikings finished off the Detroit Lions 27-9 Sunday, Dec. 23, players gathered around televisions at Ford Field.
Many watched the end of Philadelphia’s game against Houston in the locker room. Some watched at a cafeteria area in the bowels of the stadium.
The Vikings (8-6-1) were hoping for what would have felt like a second victory of the day, but when Jake Elliott kicked a 35-yard field goal on the final play for a 32-30 win for the Eagles (8-7), the Vikings’ hopes of clinching a playoff spot were dashed.
The Vikings might need to beat the Chicago Bears in the regular-season finale next Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium to make the postseason. The game has been moved from noon to 3:25 p.m. to accommodate the NFL’s flex scheduling and will be televised on Fox.
“Win and in,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “That’s how it is. We’re OK with it.”
The Vikings are in the No. 6 (final wild-card) spot in the NFC playoff race, a half-game behind Seattle (9-6). They could lose to the Bears and still make the playoffs if the Eagles lose at Washington. They can finish No. 5 only if they defeat Chicago and the Seahawks lose at home to Arizona.
“I just thought, look, to get in we’ve got to win, so why not win to get ourselves in and not depend on anybody else?” Minnesota running back Latavius Murray said of the Eagles winning. “We can’t depend on anyone, so we’ve just got to take care of business.”
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins also shrugged off Philadelphia’s victory.
“You know, ball’s in our court as it has been for several weeks now,” he said. “If we win, we win. If we don’t, we’ll have to see what happens around the league. But I don’t think I want to get in 8-7-1. I think 9-6-1 is a better way to earn your way in.”
It remains to be see how much the Bears (11-4), who have wrapped up the NFC North, will play starters against the Vikings. Chicago is a game behind the Los Angeles Rams (12-3) for the No. 3 seed and holds a potential tiebreaker. The Rams will be heavy favorites against San Francisco in their finale, which also kicks off at 3:25 p.m.
“We’ve got to win next week,” running back Dalvin Cook said. “If (the Eagles) would have won, that would have been a plus for us, but we know we’ve got to go play some good football. This is a team that beat us (25-20 at Chicago on Nov. 18), so we want to go out and redeem ourselves.”
If the Vikings finish with the No. 6 playoff seed, they likely would open the playoffs at Chicago on Jan. 5 or 6. If they finish No. 5, they would play on one of those days at Dallas, which has wrapped up the No. 4 seed as the NFC East winner.