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NFC Playoff Picture: A new projected opponent for the Vikings

But a lot of things stayed the same

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

With only one game remaining this week in the NFL, and a game that won’t affect the NFC playoff race much (if at all), it’s time for another look at the playoff picture in the National Football Conference.

Not much has changed for our Minnesota Vikings. . .they’re in exactly the same place as they were when we checked things last week. . .but they would have a different opponent in the Wild Card round if the season ended today. Let’s take a look at how the NFC stacks up as of this evening. This assumes that the Packers/Eagles score holds (and with Jordan Love now in the game at quarterback for Green Bay, there’s little reason to assume it won’t).

#1 Seed - Philadelphia Eagles (10-1, NFC East leader)

Come on. . .you didn’t really think the Vikings were going to get any help from Green Bay anywhere, did you? The Eagles rolled on Sunday Night Football, and therefore remain in firm control of the top spot in the conference and the all-important first-round bye. They’re essentially two games clear of the Vikings thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker, so they’re going to need to stumble significantly over the next six weeks for the Vikings to have a shot.

Next opponent: vs Tennessee Titans, Sunday

#2 Seed - Minnesota Vikings (9-2, NFC North leader)

The Vikings went out on Thanksgiving and cleansed the bad taste from the previous Sunday, taking down a game New England Patriots squad. That gave them their eighth one-score victory of the year and solidified their grip in the NFC North. In fact, if everything breaks their way this coming week, they could be the first team to officially move into the NFC playoff field. Who would have thought that was possible back in August, eh?

Next opponent: vs New York Jets, Sunday

#3 Seed - San Francisco 49ers (7-4, NFC West leader)

The Niners, as has seemingly been the case for the past couple of years, are back to wearing the tag of “team nobody wants to play in the postseason.” The good news is that the Vikings wouldn’t see them in the Wild Card round. The bad news is that, if things went chalk, they would see them in the Divisional round, even though it would be in Minneapolis. The Niners have so much offensive firepower that I’m not sure what the Vikings would do against them, but I’d like them to get a chance to find out.

Next opponent: vs Miami Dolphins, Sunday

#4 Seed - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6, NFC South leader)

The NFC South is bad, y’all. Like. . .bad, bad. The awfulness of this division means that it’s going to be pretty well impossible for any other division winner to fall to the #4 spot. The NFC South teams are just going to continue to beat each other up until someone wins the war of attrition and hosts a (likely) NFC East team with a much better record on Wild Card weekend.

Next opponent: vs New Orleans Saints, Monday

#5 Seed - Dallas Cowboys (8-3, NFC East #2)

This is what I meant. The Cowboys would lead both the NFC West and the NFC South, but because they’re in the NFC East and three games behind Philadelphia (two in the standings plus the head-to-head tiebreaker), there’s almost no chance of them getting a home playoff game at this point. Then again, getting to travel to play whoever wins the NFC South might be better than getting a bye, if we’re being honest.

Next opponent: vs Indianapolis Colts, Sunday

#6 Seed - New York Giants (7-4, NFC East #3)

The Giants made it darn near impossible for them to climb much higher than this now that they’ve been swept by Dallas head-to-head. It would take a serious stumble for the Cowboys to allow the Giants to leapfrog them, but they’re still one of the feel-good stories of this season. Granted, that might not mean that much, but it’s made Brian Daboll a serious Coach of the Year candidate, if nothing else.

Next opponent: vs Washington Commanders, Sunday

#7 Seed - Washington Commanders (7-5, NFC East #4)

Yes, if the season ended today, the entire NFC East would be in the playoffs. There wasn’t anybody that saw that coming before the season started. This also means that we’d get a rematch of the battle these two teams had a few weeks ago, where despite getting players tackled by referees in the open field and other chicanery, Kirk Cousins led his team to a victory in his old stomping grounds. It certainly would make for an interesting Wild Card Weekend matchup, that’s for sure.

Next opponent: at New York Giants, Sunday

Outside Looking In

  • #8 seed - Seattle Seahawks (6-5, NFC West #2)
  • #9 seed - Atlanta Falcons (5-7, NFC South #2)
  • #10 seed - Detroit Lions (4-7, NFC North #2)
  • #11 seed - Green Bay Packers (4-8, NFC North #3)
  • #12 seed - Arizona Cardinals (4-8, NFC West #3, trail Green Bay due to conference record)
  • #13 seed - Carolina Panthers (4-8, NFC South #3, trail Arizona due to head-to-head tiebreaker)
  • #14 seed - New Orleans Saints (4-8, NFC South #4, trail Carolina due to head-to-head tiebreaker)
  • #15 seed - Los Angeles Rams (3-8, NFC West #4)
  • #16 seed - Chicago Bears (3-9, NFC North #4)

Honestly, it looks like the only team that could potentially prevent the NFC East from having all four of its teams making the playoffs is Seattle, and they suffered a bad loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at home this week. The NFC South slugfest isn’t going to produce a Wild Card team, and neither will the non-Minnesota NFC North teams.

That’s a look at your playoff picture in the NFC with Week 12 almost completely in the books. What do you think of the spot the Vikings have put themselves in, folks?