MINNEAPOLIS — The Kendricks brothers are in for a month of friendly banter over the rest of the NFL season.
Eric Kendricks is a linebacker for the Vikings Mychal Kendricks is a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their teams are 10-2 and tied for the top playoff seed in the NFC, although Minnesota holds the tiebreaker, for now.
“We’ve actually been talking a little crap all year,” Eric Kendricks said Monday.
The Vikings linebacker said discussions often center on which team has the better defense. He hadn’t talked to Mychal since the Eagles’ 24-10 loss at Seattle on Sunday night dropped them out of the No. 1 seed, but there will be plenty of time over the next four weeks for some back and forth as their teams jockey for playoff position.
With the Eagles’ loss, Minnesota moves into the No. 1 seed on the basis of the fourth tiebreaker, strength of victory. If the Vikings win their final four regular-season games, their path to the Super Bowl on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium likely would run right through their home field.
“That’s amazing,” tackle Rashod Hill said. “First in the NFC it just shows all the work that we go through. We work our butts off. But we don’t want to praise on it too much. We’ve just got to try to get better each week.”
The Vikings won 14-9 at Atlanta on Sunday for their eighth straight victory. Next Sunday, they play at Carolina (8-4) in a game that carries additional tiebreaker ramifications.
The Eagles already have beaten the Panthers, and the third tiebreaker involves common opponents. A minimum of four common opponents is needed for that tiebreaker to come into play, and the teams will have that many by season’s end.
If the Vikings and Eagles win out, it will come down to strength of victory. The Vikings have beaten teams with an overall record of 56-64 Philadelphia’s wins have come over teams with a record of 45-75. That would be an unlikely margin for the Eagles to overcome.
“That’s the best part of the situation, being able to control our own destiny,” Vikings receiver Jarius Wright said. “Come this time of the year, we want to be able to control our own destiny, and so far we’ve set ourselves up really, really good. ... It’s huge for us to be able to stay here in the playoffs and be indoors.”
The last time the Vikings were in the playoffs, in January 2016, they lost 10-9 to Seattle at TCF Bank Stadium. The temperature was minus-6 degrees for what was the Vikings’ final home game not at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Very motivated to be indoors,” Wright said, remembering that game.
Since the Eagles had their nine-game winning streak snapped Sunday, there has been buzz at Winter Park about the Vikings taking over the top seed. When Hill showed up Monday at the Vikings’ training facility, he said some of the offensive linemen were talking about it.
Some Vikings, though, don’t want to go there.
“Everybody is talking about how we have the outright No. 1 seed, but there is a lot of football left to play,” said wide receiver Adam Thielen.
Pressed on the idea of perhaps never leaving home for the playoffs, including for Super Bowl LII, Thielen said, “The idea of it is great, but ... with four games left so much can change.”
Coach Mike Zimmer also shrugged off Minnesota moving into No. 1 seed position.
“My only thoughts are about the Carolina Panthers and trying to get a win this week,” he said. “All that other stuff is nice to talk about, for (the media) to talk about, but for us, we don’t talk about it.”
The Vikings haven’t had the NFC’s top seed since they went 15-1 in 1998. That season ended in the NFC championship game, a heartbreaking 30-27 overtime loss to the Falcons at the Metrodome.