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NFC Playoff Picture: Vikings battling for bye

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Yes, it’s officially that time of year for the Vikings

Minnesota Vikings v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

We are now, officially, over the midway point of the regular season, and the Minnesota Vikings are well in the thick of the playoff chase in the NFC. We can also start taking a look at how things are shaking out as far as the NFC Playoff picture is concerned. So, let’s take an opportunity to do that.

We’ll go down the current NFC playoff seeds and explain why the teams that are currently in the playoffs are where they are. This is going to be NFC only because. . .well, we don’t care that much about the AFC right now. So, let’s get started. Tiebreaker explanations are taken from the playoff explanation at CBS Sports.

#1 seed - Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)

The Eagles have not only the best record in the NFC, but the best record in the entire NFL, as they’re the only remaining one-loss team in the league. If the Vikings want the road to Super Bowl 52 to run through U.S. Bank Stadium all the way to the end, they’re going to have to hope for at least one Philadelphia stumble at some point (although more would be even better).

#2 seed - Minnesota Vikings (7-2)

The Vikings are currently part of a trio of 7-2 teams in the NFC, along with the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints. The reason that the Vikings are the #2 seed (as it stands right now) is because of tiebreakers. The three-way tie is broken by the fact that the Vikings and Saints both sport conference records of 5-1, while the Rams are at 4-2 against the NFC. With the Rams eliminated (and pushed to the #4 seed in the process), the tie between the Vikings and Saints is broken by virtue of the Vikings’ head-to-head win in Week 1. The Vikings haven’t got it easy over the next few weeks, hosting the Rams on Sunday before taking to the road for three games against teams that are in the thick of the playoff hunt.

#3 seed - New Orleans Saints (7-2)

We’ve gone over why the Saints are in the #3 spot here. They might be the hottest team in the league, having ripped off seven straight wins after an 0-2 start. They’ll get a shot at the Rams in Week 12 after the Vikings are finished with them.

#4 seed - Los Angeles Rams (7-2)

The Rams are the NFL’s biggest surprise, but they might have the toughest schedule going forward. In the next five weeks, they have games against the Vikings, Saints, Eagles, and Seahawks (who already hold a head-to-head victory over the Rams). Sean McVay’s team has been crushing people on both sides of the ball, but we’re going to see what they’re made of over the next few weeks.

#5 seed - Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

Both of the projected wild card teams sit at 6-3, but the Seahawks sit in the #5 spot due to having a better conference record than the Carolina Panthers (4-2 for Seattle, 4-3 for Carolina). The Seahawks are going through a ton of injury issues, but hey. . .as Vikings fans, we know what that’s all about, don’t we?

#6 seed - Carolina Panthers (6-3)

If the playoff picture stayed like this, both of the Wild Card Weekend matchups in the NFC would be divisional matchups (Carolina at New Orleans and Seattle at Los Angeles). The Panthers have a game on Monday night against the Miami Dolphins, but even with a loss they would stay in the #6 spot, as all of the teams behind them are only 5-4 and the Panthers would be 6-4 with a loss. A win tonight would, obviously, jump the Panthers over the Seahawks.

Outside looking in

As always, the most important thing for the Vikings is to keep winning football games, which they seem to have been doing a pretty darn good job of recently. We’ll keep updating this every week so that we can see exactly where the Vikings stand in the conference playoff chase.