My how things have changed in just over a month.
After finishing off a sweep of the Green Bay Packers on November 1, the Vikings were sitting pretty with a 7-1 record going into their bye week. Then without even playing a game in week nine, the Vikes expanded their division lead to three full games (essentially four games with Minnesota owning the tiebreaker advantage) when the Pack lost to the 0-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Packer Nation was in a veritable meltdown after that, as there were calls for the heads of GM Ted Thompson, head coach
But since that fateful week nine loss, the Packers have seemingly righted the ship. They have won four consecutive games and are now statistically the top ranked defense in the NFL. Combine that with the fact the quarterback Aaron Rodgers has survived the poor offensive line play (sacked 43 times in the first ten games; only twice the past two) and the Pack has once again emerged as a threat
My take is I'm assuming the Packers will run the table in their remaining four games, which are at Chicago, at Pittsburgh, hosting Seattle and at Arizona. If that is the case, Green Bay will finish with a 12-4 record. So for the Vikings (10-2) to win the division (and wrap up a first round bye) they must go at least 2-2 against the remaining schedule of hosting Cincinnati, at Carolina, at Chicago and hosting the New York Giants. And if the Vikings can't manage that record in their last four contests then I don't believe they're worthy of the division title, much less for people to take them seriously as a Super Bowl contender.
And if indeed the Packers beat the lousy Bears and the Vikes lose to the Bengals this week, the panic will increase amongst Vikings fans while the Purple's margin for error significantly decreases.