Not that I'm an eternal optimist (nor in this case a fool), but I want to point out that there's a chance the Minnesota Vikings could make the 2011 playoffs. Really, the field is wide open for the wildcard spots, and this situation could be true for anyone in the NFC, except the Colts.
To be sure, they cannot win the division. With a 2-8 record, they are going to finish at best 8-8, while the Green Bay Packers, running a 10-0 record, have at least beat the Vikings for the division. At worst (and it looks to be very unlikely) the Packers would finish 10-6. The Bears or Lions could end as good as 13-3 if things went their way, so they still have a chance to win the division.
I started this by saying the Vikings still had a chance. They do, but it requires a bit of a miracle.
FIrst, the Vikings would pretty much have to win all of their remaining games, and end with a .500 record. It might be possible to be in the playoffs with fewer wins, but it gets harder with each loss.
In addition to the Vikings winning them all, the Bears and Lions both need to win no more wins well, the Bears could have no more than one more winning game, giving them records of 7-9. This puts the Vikings in second place in the division, no matter what the Packers do with the rest of their season.
In addition to the Vikings finishing their season at .500, in second place in the division, no more than one other team in the NFC could finish with an 8-8 record, or at least no teams to which the Vikings would lose a tie breaker.
Strangely, this is actually possible. With some football left to play this week, it's currently the case that only two teams in the NFC already have 8 win: the Packers (10-0) and the 49ers (8-1). Four teams with better records (or not) than the Vikings will be division leaders; the Packers being the NFC North winner in this scenario. One more team could be the #5 wildcard and still leave room for the Vikings.
Only the Packers, 49ers, Saints Lions, Bears, Cowboys, and Giants stand signfiicantly ahead of the Vikings. That seems like a lot of teams, but in the scenario, we've eliminated the Lions and Bears, and three of the other teams can be their division's winners. The remaining teams are only a game or two ahead of, tied with, or actually a couple games behind the Vikings. It takes less collpase for those teams in this scenario.
Down but not out, if the Vikings can pull it together, the other teams mostly collapse, and other things happen just right, the Vikings have a chance of making it to the playoffs as a wildcard team.