While our eyes are going to be focused on the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks this afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium, there will be plenty of other NFL action going on. Some of those games are going to affect the Vikings in some way, so what should Vikings' fans be hoping for?
Well, to start with, here is the current NFC playoff picture:
First Round Byes
1) Carolina Panthers (11-0, NFC South leader)
2) Arizona Cardinals (9-2, NFC West leader)
Remaining Playoff Teams
3) Minnesota Vikings (8-3, NFC North leader)
4) Washington Redskins (5-6, NFC East leader)
5) Green Bay Packers (8-4)
6) Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
Outside Looking In
7) Atlanta Falcons (6-5)
8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
9) New York Giants (5-6)
10) Chicago Bears (5-6)
11) St. Louis Rams (4-7)
12) Philadelphia Eagles (4-7)
13) New Orleans Saints (4-7)
14) Detroit Lions (4-8)
15) San Francisco 49ers (3-8)
16) Dallas Cowboys (3-8)
(Numbers taken from our friend Danny Kelly over at Field Gulls.)
So, with the picture in our heads now, here's a look at the rest of the NFL schedule for Week 13, and who it appears (at least to me) that Vikings fans should be cheering for, in no particular oder.
Vikings at Seahawks: Vikings
If I have to explain this one, please leave.
49ers at Bears: 49ers
The Bears being at 5-7 is beneficial to us, obviously, both in terms of the NFC North and (potentially) any wild card implications. The Vikings have another game against the Bears in Week 15, and will have a chance for the sweep.
Jets at Giants: Jets
The wild card, obviously, isn't coming out of the tire fire that is the NFC East. The Vikings have to see the Giants in Week 16, and a Giants' loss would push them further down the NFC standings.
Cardinals at Rams: Rams
One of the two losses that Arizona has this season came to St. Louis. If they should fall again and Minnesota wins this afternoon, Thursday night's contest would have the inside track to a first-round bye in play.
Falcons at Buccaneers: Buccaneers
While the Vikings have the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Falcons, a win for Tampa would put both teams at 6-6, and Tampa would have the season sweep over Atlanta.
Eagles at Patriots: Patriots
Then again, I don't think it matters who's cheering for the Eagles in this one. Angry Tom Brady against a bad defense is a recipe for a curbstomping.
Panthers at Saints: Panthers
Because New Orleans deserves a pretty good thumping, being New Orleans and all. . .and it's not like anyone's catching Carolina for the top NFC seed anyway, barring an injury to Cam Newton, so why not cheer for the 16-0 regular season?
Cowboys at Redskins (Monday night): Cowboys
I know. . .the thought of cheering for the Cowboys is going to make some folks a little queasy. But Dallas plays Green Bay next week, and it would be nice to see them get a little momentum. Besides, the worse the NFC East gets, the more entertaining it is for everyone else, right?
Games that really don't matter to the Vikings one way or another
Texans at Bills, Bengals at Browns, Ravens at Dolphins, Jaguars at Titans, Chiefs at Raiders, Broncos at Chargers, Colts at Steelers (Sunday night)
So, there you go. . .obviously, the game at TCF Bank Stadium this afternoon is the most important one, but there are other things to pay attention to as well.