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, they may not be as much of a Super Bowl favorite as they were to begin the season, but the Vikings still have a pretty good chance to make the playoffs with four games left to play.A more detailed look at the remaining schedule for potential playoff contenders makes that more clear.Here is a look:VikingsThey play at Seattle in what may be the pivotal game in terms of who gets the higher wild card spot.A win here would also keep them in contention for the NFC North division title.The next two weeks- at home against the Dolphins and at Detroit - look a little easier before the Bears come to town for what could be a division title match.The ContendersHere’s where things look more favorable for the Vikings.As it stands now, the Vikings are the 6th seed, and the Seahawks the 5th seed.The Cowboys, Bears, Saints and Rams are the division leaders. Okay.But those on the heels of the Vikings for the 6th and final playoff seed are not looking at particularly favorable schedules the rest of the way.Here’s what I mean:CAROLINAThe Panthers are the 7th seed currently, but have gone from 6-2 to 6-6 over the past four weeks, and some say they could finish 6-10.They play the Saints twice in the last four weeks, and also the Falcons and a much better Browns team on the road.To me, that looks like an 8-8 record at best by the end of the season.EAGLESThe Eagles are currently the 8th seed, also at 6-6, and the Vikings have the head-to-head matchup advantage against them as well.More than that, the Eagles remaining schedule is at Dallas, at the Rams, Texans at home, and at Washington to end the season.Again, an 8-8 record looks about the best case scenario for the Eagles here, and 7-9 would not be the least bit surprising given their remaining schedule.REDSKINSWashington is also 6-6, and the 9th seed, but now on their 3rd string QB to finish the season.The Giants at home, the Jags and Titans on the road, before finishing at home against the Eagles isn’t too bad a schedule, but the Redskins with Mark Sanchez are going to need Adrian Peterson about as much as the Christian Ponder-led Vikings did, and even then it’s a tough road.I don’t see the Redskins winning more than two more games, and they may go 0-4, or 0-7 really, to finish the season.BUCCANEERS At 5-7 and the 10th seed, the Buccaneers are not officially eliminated yet, but would need to win all their games to have a chance - Saints, at Ravens and Cowboys, home against the Falcons.Good luck.PACKERSAt 4-7-1, the Packers are pretty much done, but I put them on there as a theoretical possibility to land the last wild card spot.The play the Falcons, at the Bears and Jets, before finishing at home against the Lions in what could be the NFC North basement bowl.What Does That All Mean ? When you break it down this way, 8-7-1 looks pretty good as far as taking the 6th seed at this point.Sure Cris Carter Jersey
, the Panthers or Eagles could catch fire and run the table, but more realistically I don’t see any of the Vikings contenders for a 6th seed wild card spot finishing the season any better than 8-8.That means the Vikings could still lose to the Seahawks and Bears, so long as they beat the Dolphins at home and the Lions in Detroit, and still make the playoffs.And if that happened they would likely face the Bears again at Soldier Field in the first round of the playoffs, with a less likely, but still possible chance of facing the Cowboys on the road.On the other hand, if the Vikings finish strong and go 4-0 to finish the season, I suspect they would take the NFC North crown again and face either the Bears at home (for the 2nd straight week) or the Seahawks.Bottom line, the Vikings need to take care of business the next three weeks, and then have a damn good game plan to beat the Bears more than once if need be. Last week, the NFL announced that the projected 2019 salary cap would be between $187 - $191 million, an increase of anywhere from $10-14 million, depending on where the final number lands. That is keeping with recent trends, which has seen an annual increase of about $10 million a year, give or take, since 2013.If anyone cares, the initial NFL salary cap, which was instituted in 1994, was $34.6 million. How times have changed.So, how will that affect the Vikings? According to Spotrac, if you roll all 2019 contracts and project them for next year, Minnesota is about $7.5 million under a projected cap number of $190 million as I write this (I’m rounding to the nearest million, because math is hard). It seems like the Vikings are already hard up against the cap, but let’s look at just a few contracts that are prime candidates to be adjusted, which will give the Vikings room to maneuver for free agency and the draft next year.Andrew Sendejo, S: Sendejo is scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2019, with no dead money if he is released. He’s been a starter next to Harrison Smith since 2015, but was injured in week five, and was put on IR a couple weeks ago. In that time, Anthony Harris has emerged as a bona fide starter, and I just don’t see Sendejo returning at that salary. Heck, I’d be surprised if he’s back at all.Harris will be an unrestricted free agent, so I can see them taking the savings from Sendejo’s salary and putting it towards a new deal for Harris, but that’s just me.Everson Griffen, DE: This is a difficult paragraph to write for me, as Griff is one of my favorite Vikings Chris Doleman Color Rush Jersey
, and his well documented struggles with his mental health this year have me really rooting for him. That said, he’s got a 2019 salary of $11.9 million, with only $1.2 in dead money. Griff only has 4.5 sacks this year, and Stephen Weatherly has played well in his place. With the emergence of Danielle Hunter as a pass rushing force, Griffen’s salary is a luxury at this point. I hope the Vikings don’t release him and they find a way to keep him at a lower cap number, but I would be stunned if he’s back at his full projected salary next year.Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudolph has been a productive player for the Vikings, but he is on the hook for $7.2 million next year, with no dead money against the cap. He’s still a big part of the Vikings offense, and even though I’d be surprised to see the Vikes outright release him, I wouldn’t be surprised if they re-do his contract.Mike Remmers, RG: I think Remmers’ future is tied to what the Vikings do in the draft and free agency. He’s scheduled to make $6.3 million next year, but has a dead cap number of $1.8 million. The Vikings have one of the lowest dead cap numbers in the NFL, so absorbing that much dead money would be an unusual move. Still, though, it would be a $4 million savings.Riley Reiff, LT: Reiff’s 2019 salary is $11.7 million, with a dead cap number of $6.6 million. If cutting Remmers and absorbing $1.8 million in dead money is unusual, then taking $6.6 million would be the salary cap equivalent of The Elephant Man unusual; it’s simply not happening. But is it conceivable the Vikings can re-do Reiff’s contract and wring out a saving of $5 million? Yes, it is, and I believe they’ll do just that.Laquon Treadwell, WR: The player everyone can’t wait to get rid of will be sticking around next year. He is still on his rookie deal, and his 2019 salary is fully guaranteed. I highly doubt the Vikes exercise his fifth year option, a decision they will have to make next May, but next season he’s making $3.1 million, which means cutting him would cost the Vikings $3.1 million in dead cap money.So, let’s say the Vikings cut all these guys, minus Treadwell. The Vikings will see a savings ofover $27 million dollars, giving them an estimated cap space of $40.5 million just by addressing these five contracts. Like I mentioned, I don’t see them cutting all these guys, but I do think they’ll restructure two or three guys, if the players are willing to do so. I have no idea what those modified deals will look like, but it’s not unreasonable to think that when it’s all said and done, Minnesota will save about $30-35 million in cap space just dealing with these contracts alone, giving them enough money to do what they need to do in free agency and the draft.