Coming off a big win at home over rival Green Bay, Minnesota is firmly in the playoff picture.
Heading into Sunday’s game, the Vikings are in the sixth slot – the second of three wild cards.
The team in the seventh slot is San Francisco, Minnesota’s opponent this weekend on the road.
A win would not only help the Vikings create some distance over the 49ers but also New Orleans (now 5-6 after a loss on Thursday) and potentially other playoff hopefuls such as Carolina and Philadelphia.
Oh, and maybe just maybe Minnesota could gain another game on the Packers, who host a 7-3 Los Angeles Rams team at home Sunday.
But can the Vikings get past a 49ers team which has won three of their last four games, scoring 30+ in each of those victories including back-to-back blowouts over the Rams and Jacksonville?
Here’s this week’s predictions from around the web:
Barry Wilner of the Associated Press: 49ers 30, Vikings 28.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times: Vikings 27, 49ers 23. “Minnesota has rounded into one of the better teams in the NFC, as long as it can get in the habit of finishing strong. San Francisco’s secondary could have a problem with those Minnesota receivers.”
The Miami Herald’s Greg Cote: 49ers 26, Vikings 23. “Both teams are hot(ish) and have climbed back onto periphery of NFC wild-card hunt. Minny’s win-path is usually a hot Kirk Cousins prevailing in a shootout, but San Fran — with NFL’s No. 3 pass defense — is suited to not let that happen.”
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal: 49ers 28, Vikings 24. “The 49ers are first in EPA/play since Week 8, the game after Kyle Shanahan publicly wavered on whether he'd keep Jimmy Garoppolo as his starting quarterback. Trent Williams is the key component to an offensive line that is pushing defenses around. That's the best recipe to beat a Vikings squad that is at its best defending the pass. In other words, it's a bad week for Vikings run stopper Dalvin Tomlinson to be out, and fellow defensive line starter Everson Griffen could also be unavailable after police and Vikings mental health professionals responded to a 911 call at his home early Wednesday morning.”
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com: 49ers 27, Vikings 26. “In terms of the playoff picture, this is a big game. The 49ers have righted things with two straight victories, but their defense will be challenged by the Minnesota passing game. San Francisco's run game and quick passing game will be tough to deal with for the Minnesota defense. I will go with the Vikings to keep this one close, with the 49ers pulling it out late.”
John Breech of CBSSports.com: Vikings 33, 49ers 30.
Jordan Dajani of CBSSports.com: Vikings 28, 49ers 24. “[The 49ers] thrive off of their defense and run game. What happens when they go down by a touchdown or more? The Vikings have now led by seven or more points in every game they have played this season, and they are the only team in the NFL to do that. Kirk Cousins has an NFL-high 10.5 TD/INT ratio and Justin Jefferson is thriving. Does the Minnesota run defense have to step up to contain San Francisco's ground game? Of course. But I expect this to be a close game and I really think the Vikings win.”
Jonathan Jones of CBSSports.com: 49ers.
Bill Bender of the Sporting News: Vikings 27, 49ers 21. “This is a fun battle between two fringe NFC playoff contenders. The Vikings have played in six games decided by four points or less, and they are 2-4 in those games. Their defense is getting healthy, too. San Francisco has won three of four, but they are just 1-4 at home this season. Minnesota steals one on the road.”
Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News: 49ers 31, Vikings 27. “This battle of two explosive and balanced offenses will be fun as Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo both stay hot. Between Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen, the playmaking receivers are aplenty, before getting into the strong zone based running games. The Vikings have figured out how to win close games, but the 49ers just regained their confidence in home games. Offensive-minded Kyle Shanahan outwits defensive-minded Mike Zimmer just enough.”
Ben Rolfe of Pro Football Network: Vikings 26, 49ers 24. “Both of these teams have won vital games in the last couple of weeks. Now, they have another massive game for their playoff chances as they battle in San Francisco. The final two NFC playoff spots are up for grabs, and neither team can afford to lose the tiebreaker. The Vikings’ offense has really clicked into gear the last few weeks, while it has been the 49ers’ defense and run game that has driven their recent success. The Vikings have done reasonably well limiting opponents’ run games the last two weeks, and they should be able to go on the road and get a crucial victory.”
Justin Bales of Pro Football Network: 49ers 24, Vikings 21. “The Vikings rank last in the NFL in yards allowed per rush attempt (4.8). The 49ers should be able to control the ball, limiting Minnesota’s opportunities for big plays.”
Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith and Mike Florio: MDS – 49ers 28, Vikings 27; Florio – 49ers 24, Vikings 20.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 49ers 31, Vikings 30.
Ken Schott of The Daily Gazette: 49ers 28, Vikings 27.
Don Brennan of the Toronto Sun: Vikings 34, 49ers 28.
Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area: 49ers 24, Vikings 20. “The Vikings only play close games. Minnesota could very well be 8-2 or 2-8 had things broken differently in a couple games. That’s the NFL. The 49ers have found the right formula over the last two weeks and I think the quick passing game and running game does the trick here again, but Kirk Cousins keeps it close.”
Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski: Vikings.
Bleacher Report staff: Three of six pick the Vikings. Score prediction: Vikings 26, 49ers 23.
Joe DiTullio and Cecil J. Walker III of The Game Haus: DiTullio – 49ers; Walker – 49ers.
Three of eight analysts at CBSSports.com take the Vikings to win.
All five analysts at SI.com are picking the 49ers.
Four of seven writers at USA Today predict a Vikings victory.
Four of 11 analysts at ESPN pick the Vikings.
Just one of four writers at Athlon Sports think the Vikings will win.