The six teams that will comprise the field for the 2015 NFC Playoffs have already been determined. Two teams, the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals, have clinched first-round byes and will be the top two seeds in the conference. The other four teams in the field will be the Washington Redskins, the Seattle Seahawks, the Green Bay Packers. . .and, of course, your Minnesota Vikings.
The Redskins, as the NFC East champions, are locked into the #4 spot and will be hosting a game on Wild Card weekend. The are the only team in the NFC playoff field who can't move up or down, seeding-wise, on this final weekend of the regular season. The Vikings, on the other hand, could come in at #3, #5, or #6 depending on the results of their game against the Packers and the outcome of the Seahawks' game in Arizona. Let's review the three potential scenarios and why things fall the way they do in each one.
First things first. . .if the Vikings defeat the Packers on Sunday Night Football and win the NFC North, they will be the #3 seed and host the Seahawks regardless of the results of the Seahawks/Cardinals game. That's because the wild card teams in that scenario would be Green Bay and Seattle, and even if they both finished 10-6, the Packers would occupy the #5 spot because of their head-to-head victory over the Seahawks.
If the Vikings win on Sunday night, they will host the Seahawks on Wild Card Weekend. Green Bay would go to Washington.
Now, if the Vikings lose this evening, the results of the Seattle/Arizona game will come into play. In a scenario where Minnesota loses and Arizona wins, the Vikings will be the #5 seed, based on having a better record than Seattle would if that happened. Minnesota would be 10-6 and Seattle would be 9-7, so there wouldn't be any tiebreaking involved.
If the Vikings lose on Sunday night and the Cardinals beat the Seahawks, Minnesota will travel to Washington on Wild Card Weekend. Green Bay would host Seattle.
Last, if the Vikings lose to Green Bay and Seattle defeats Arizona, Minnesota would be the #6 seed. Both the Seahawks and the Vikings would finish 10-6 in that scenario, and the head-to-head tiebreaker would give the advantage to Seattle. That means, for the second week in a row, we'd have Vikings at Packers.
If the Vikings lose on Sunday night and the Seahawks beat the Cardinals, Minnesota will be back in Green Bay for Wild Card Weekend. Seattle would travel to Washington.
Those are the three big scenarios that affect the Minnesota Vikings in this final week of the regular season. Obviously, we will have a bit more clarification on where the Vikings could be seeded by the time Sunday Night Football kicks off.
We will have an Open Thread up for the early NFL action at 11:30 AM Central time, approximately half an hour before the early slate of games kick off.