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NFC Playoff Picture: Vikings take inside track to first-round bye

With their defeat of the Rams, the Vikings strengthened their grip on the #2 seed

Picture courtesy of CBS Sports

UPDATE: We have updated this post to reflect the results of Monday Night Football.

With only one game remaining in Week 11 in the National Football League, we can take a look at how the playoff picture is being shaped in the NFC. At this point, none of the teams have changed from when we looked last week, and none of the seedings have changed from last week (although they could, depending on Monday Night Football), but we have gotten a little more clarity on a few things. So, let’s take a look at where things stand in the current NFC playoff picture.

#1 seed - Philadelphia Eagles (9-1, NFC East leaders)

Yes, the Eagles trailed at halftime of their Sunday Night Football contest, but spent the second half blowing the doors off of the Dallas Cowboys to move their record to 9-1 and remain the NFL’s only one-loss team. The Eagles continue to look outstanding on both sides of the ball, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to catch them for the top spot at this point.

#2 seed - Minnesota Vikings (8-2, NFC North leaders, #2 seed based on head-to-head win over New Orleans)

With their dominating victory over Los Angeles on Sunday, the Vikings strengthened their grip on the #2 seed in the NFC. They now hold head-to-head victories over both New Orleans and Los Angeles, and with those two teams facing off this week, the Vikings would hold a head-to-head sweep of those two teams if there wound up being a three-way tie between them. The Vikings control their own destiny for this spot. If they keep winning, they stay here.

#3 seed - New Orleans Saints (8-2, NFC South leaders)

The Saints are the talk of the NFL right now, almost as if everyone has forgotten that the Vikings spent Week 1 kicking them all over U.S. Bank Stadium for four quarters. The Saints got a comeback win on Sunday when the Washington Redskins chose to urinate all over themselves. . .figuratively, not literally. . .and cough up a 15-point lead with six minutes to go. The Saints are still being chased by the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South, and have to travel to take on Los Angeles next Sunday, so things could get interesting for them.

#4 seed - Los Angeles Rams (7-3, NFC West leaders)

The loss to the Vikings on Sunday was a costly one for the Rams, as their chances for a first-round bye took a significant hit as a result. Worse still, if Seattle wins on Monday Night Football this evening, the Rams would fall out of the #4 spot because of the head-to-head victory that Seattle already has over them this season. They can climb back up with a victory over New Orleans at home on Sunday, and that would be really helpful to us, too, so hopefully the Rams can get their groove back on Sunday.

#5 seed - Carolina Panthers (7-3, wild card #1)

The Panthers had their bye this week, but appear to have gotten themselves back on track after a rough go of things. The Panthers’ traded away Cam Newton’s #1 receiver when they sent Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo, but they appear to be getting along just fine. The Vikings will see this team in Charlotte in Week 14 in a game that could wind up getting flexed to prime time.

#6 seed - Seattle Seahawks (6-3, wild card #2, play tonight)

The Seahawks, as previously mentioned, play their tenth game tonight, as they will host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. A win for the Seahawks would put them into the #4 seed and the NFC West lead. A loss for the Seahawks would put them into a three-way fight with Atlanta and Detroit for the #6 seed in the NFC. (I haven’t worked out all the tiebreakers between those three teams if they were to all be 6-4.)

#6 seed - Atlanta Falcons (6-4, wild card #2 based on head-to-head sweep of Detroit and Seattle)

With their victory over the Seahawks on Monday Night Football, the Falcons have vaulted into the last wild card spot. This is another team the Vikings will see in the near future, as they’ll play them after the “mini-bye” for playing on Thanksgiving.

Outside looking in

  • #7 seed - Detroit Lions (6-4, at #7 by virtue of having a better conference record than Seattle)
  • #8 seed - Atlanta Falcons (5-4, play tonight) Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
  • #9 seed - Green Bay Packers (5-5, at #9 by virtue of head-to-head win over Dallas)
  • #10 seed - Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
  • #11 seed - Washington Redskins (4-6, at #11 by virtue of common games tiebreaker over Arizona)
  • #12 seed - Arizona Cardinals (4-6, at #12 by virtue of head-to-head win over Tampa Bay)
  • #13 seed - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)
  • #14 seed - Chicago Bears (3-7)
  • #15 seed - New York Giants (2-8)
  • #16 seed - San Francisco 49ers (1-9)

That’s a quick look at the NFC playoff picture. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, the Vikings can stay right where they are. . .or, you know, move up a spot. That would be pretty awesome, too.