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Vikings could wrap up NFC North next Sunday

If everything works out properly

NFL: New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

We’re still waiting for Week 12 to conclude in this National Football League season, and no teams have officially locked themselves into the postseason yet. In Week 13, the Minnesota Vikings will have an opportunity to be the first.

Last night’s 33-26 victory over the New England Patriots, coupled with the Detroit Lions' loss to the Buffalo Bills earlier in the day, has reduced the Vikings’ “magic number” for winning their first division championship since 2017 to two. That means any combination of Vikings wins and losses for the Lions or the Green Bay Packers that adds up to two will give the Vikings the division title.

As things stand right now, the Vikings’ 9-2 record puts them five games clear of both the Lions and the Packers, who are each 4-7. Green Bay hasn’t had their bye yet and could be eliminated from division title contention should they lose to Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football. The only chance the Packers have at winning the division is to win out and hope that Minnesota doesn’t win another game.

(I don’t like their chances.)

Next week’s schedule will see the Vikings host the New York Jets after their mini-bye in the hopes of going 4-0 against the AFC East this season. Detroit will face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field a week from Sunday. Even if the Vikings were to lose to the Jets, they could wrap up the division when they travel to Ford Field in Week 14 to face the Lions.

As we’ve said a few times already over the past couple of weeks, the Vikings would really, really have to screw up badly not to make a return to the playoffs this year. Because of the way things have worked out, they could punch their ticket to the postseason party as early as next Sunday afternoon.