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NFC Playoff Picture: Minnesota Vikings Moving Up

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the NFC action for Week 10 in the National Football League in the books, we can take a look at what the playoff race in the NFC looks like. Thanks to their victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings have moved up in the seedings. They're not in first-round bye territory yet, but they're on the doorstep.

If the NFL playoffs were to begin today, the Vikings (7-2) would be the #3 seed and would host the sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons (6-3) in the Wild Card round of the playoffs at TCF Bank Stadium. The other NFC Wild Card match-up would feature the Green Bay Packers (6-3) as the #5 seed traveling to take on the #4 seed New York Giants. The first-round byes would go to the #1 seed, the Carolina Panthers (9-0), and the #2 seed, the Arizona Cardinals (7-2).

Last week, with the Vikings and Packers tied for the NFC North lead, we went through the procedures for breaking ties between teams in the same division. Now, we're going to take a look at how to break ties between teams in different divisions, which is what we have with Arizona and Minnesota for the #2 seed. Here is the list of tiebreakers for that scenario:

-Head-to-head, if applicable.
-Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
-Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
-Strength of victory.
-Strength of schedule.
-Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
-Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
-Best net points in conference games.
-Best net points in all games.
-Best net touchdowns in all games.
-Coin toss.

The Vikings and Cardinals will meet head-to-head in Arizona in Week 14, but that hasn't happened yet, so we now move on to the second tiebreaker, which is winning percentage in conference games. Here is who the Cardinals and the Vikings have played in the NFC thus far:

Arizona Cardinals Minnesota Vikings
New Orleans Saints (W 31-19) San Francisco 49ers (L 20-3)
Chicago Bears (W 48-23) Detroit Lions (W 26-16)
San Francisco 49ers (W 47-7) Detroit Lions (W 28-19)
St. Louis Rams (L 24-22) Chicago Bears (W 23-20)
Detroit Lions (W 42-17) St. Louis Rams (W 21-18)
Seattle Seahawks (W 39-32)
Record: 5-1 (.833) Record: 4-1 (.800)

Both teams have played nine games thus far, but the Vikings have played all four of their interconference match-ups already, while the Cardinals still have a pretty big date with the Cincinnati Bengals next week. As you can see, both teams have only lost once against NFC competition (Arizona's other loss was to the Pittsburgh Steelers), but since Arizona has played six games against NFC teams to Minnesota's five, that gives them a better conference winning percentage. . .and, in this scenario, the #2 seed and a first-round bye.

The Minnesota Vikings are going places, folks. . .and with a win on Sunday against Green Bay at TCF Bank Stadium, they could potentially pull themselves out of the Wild Card picture and into a real battle for that #2 seed (or even the #1 seed, if Carolina should slip at some point). They've already matched their win total from 2014, and you know that Mike Zimmer's team is going to be hungry for more.