One week remains in the 2018 NFL regular season, and only a few scenarios still left to play out as the playoff picture unfolds. We’re breaking down the most interesting possible Wild Card matchups that could happen after Week 17.
We’ve finally reached the end of the 2018 NFL regular season. Some are ready to embrace the off-season changes that loom over their favorite franchise. Others are fans of to-be playoff teams, or just yearn for the higher-end football that the playoffs bring.
Week 17 will bring clarity to the remaining playoff picture.
Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Tennessee are vying for the final AFC playoff spots. In the NFC, it’s down to Minnesota or Philadelphia. There’s some seeding issues to work out as well.
Though I believe the Titans, Steelers, and Vikings will miss out on the playoffs based on their clinching scenarios, we’ll be looking at the most interesting possible storylines post-Week 17. The Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, and Los Angeles Rams are such heavy favorites that we’ll be treating them as sure-things to earn the bye week into the Divisional Round.
A Vikings-Bears Part III is Possible
The best part of Week 17 on the NFC side is that the Chicago Bears somewhat control their Wild Card foe. Should they lie down and let the Minnesota Vikings win, or the Vikings win with Chicago trying, they’ll be set for a third battle.
If the Vikings lose, the Bears will host either Seattle (if they lose to Arizona) or Philadelphia (if they beat Washington). The Vikings appear to be the most favorable matchup based on their previous meeting.
Their last matchup in mid-November featured a fourth-quarter comeback from the Vikings, but was se-up by their own blunders. The Bears could barely produce against the stout Vikings’ defense, but a pick-six by safety Eddie Jackson put them up 22-6 with only eight minutes left.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was able to scrounge two late touchdowns together, but the Bears suffocated the offense until it was garbage time. That’s been a tough lesson that Vikings fans have learned about their $84 million man this season; Cousins is unlikely to perform well when his team needs him most, and his production comes when games are nearly decided.
Though the Bears had just two sacks in the game, Cousins was under constant duress and the Vikings’ running game was non-existent. Since then, the Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo for being too predictable.
One thing to watch in a part three is how new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski has done a better job prioritizing Dalvin Cook. The Bears’ defense is arguably the best in the NFL though, and their goal would be forcing Cousins to beat them.