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NFC Playoff Picture: Vikings drop to #3 seed

Missing a golden opportunity

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

So. . .that was pretty awful, wasn’t it? Well, time to get over it, kids, because we’ve got playoffs to talk about.

With the game that’s currently happening and the Monday Night game both being completely AFC affairs, the NFC playoff picture going into the final week of the season has been solidified. Things have changed for the Minnesota Vikings and a few other teams as well, so let’s take a look at where things stand right now.

#1 seed - Philadelphia Eagles (13-3, NFC East leaders, clinched playoff berth)

For the second week in a row, the Eagles had a “win and clinch” scenario for the NFC East and the #1 overall seed in the NFC playoffs. And, for the second week in a row, they failed to get there as they lost to New Orleans. They can still win all that if they win in Week 17, and they might have it a bit easier against a team that’s locked into their playoff position. We’ll get to them in a minute. But the Eagles are still in the driver’s seat as things stand right now.

#2 seed - San Francisco 49ers (12-4, NFC West champions)

The Niners had a heck of a fight on their hands against the Jarrett Stidham-led Raiders, but they did what they had to and, as a result, now control the #2 seed in the NFC. They could jump to the #1 spot if things break the right way for them, but the only way they fall out of the top 2 is if they lose to the fightin’ David Bloughs next week at home and Minnesota beats Chicago. As we’ve mentioned, this is important because they would now host a potential 2 vs 3 matchup against Minnesota, rather than that game happening at U.S. Bank Stadium.

  • Week 18 opponent: vs Arizona

#3 seed - Minnesota Vikings (12-4, NFC North champions)

The Vikings really blew a golden opportunity to get into the race for the #1 seed, and now have no path to that spot. They’ll either be the 2 or the 3. Depending on how Kevin O’Connell wants to play it, we could see this team resting starters in their final game. . .something that, given a couple of the injuries we saw in the game against Green Bay, might not be the worst idea, but that’s a topic for the rest of the week.

  • Week 18 opponent: at Chicago

#4 seed - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8, NFC South champions)

The NFC South pillow fight is over, as Tom Brady and company vanquished the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to lock up the division crown. That means that they’ll host a playoff game on Super Wild Card weekend, and it will be against the #5 seed, whether that’s Dallas or Philadelphia. I’m not about to count out Tom Brady or anything because, you know, he’s Tom Brady, but the Bucs have just been off all year. Who knows in the playoffs, though.

  • Week 18 opponent: at Atlanta

#5 seed - Dallas Cowboys (12-4, NFC East #2, clinched playoff berth)

The Cowboys still have a shot at winning the NFC East if they win on Sunday and the Eagles lose. They could even jump to the #1 seed with that combination and a San Francisco loss. As it stands right now, however, they’re the top Wild Card team and would have the aforementioned date with Tom Brady and company when the playoffs get underway.

  • Week 18 opponent: at Washington

#6 seed - New York Giants (9-6-1, NFC East #3, clinched playoff berth)

The Giants punched their ticket to the postseason with a rout of Indianapolis, and they are locked into this spot. They can’t climb to the #5 seed or drop to the #7 seed. This could play into the race for the top seed because the Giants really have no incentive to care against an Eagles team that still has something to play for and could give a bunch of guys the week off next weekend. Heck, if I were Brian Daboll, that’s what I’d do.

  • Week 18 opponent: at Philadelphia

#7 seed - Seattle Seahawks (8-8, NFC West #2)

The Seahawks are currently the last team in the playoff field as of now, but they do not control their own destiny. If they win on Sunday, they would eliminate Detroit. . .but they would still need Detroit to beat Green Bay. If Green Bay beats Detroit and ties Seattle at 9-8, Green Bay would get in based on a better conference record (7-5 to 6-6). If Detroit and Seattle tie at 9-8, Seattle would get in based on their head-to-head victory over Detroit. If Seattle loses and Detroit wins, then Detroit gets in. That’s intrigue, y’all.

Still Alive

#8 seed - Detroit Lions (8-8, NFC North #2)

  • Week 18 opponent: at Green Bay

#9 seed - Green Bay Packers (8-8, NFC North #3, behind Detroit based on divisional record)

  • Week 18 opponent: vs Detroit

Eliminated from playoff contention

#10 seed - Washington Commanders (7-8-1, NFC East #4)

  • Week 18 opponent: vs Dallas

#11 seed - New Orleans Saints (7-9, NFC South #2)

  • Week 18 opponent: vs Carolina

#12 seed - Carolina Panthers (6-10, NFC South #3)

  • Week 18 opponent: at New Orleans

#13 seed - Atlanta Falcons (6-10, NFC South #4, behind Carolina based on division record)

  • Week 18 opponent: vs Tampa Bay

#14 seed - Los Angeles Rams (5-11, NFC West #3)

  • Week 18 opponent: at Seattle

#15 seed - Arizona Cardinals (4-12, NFC West #4)

  • Week 18 opponent: at San Francisco

#16 seed - Chicago Bears (3-13, NFC North #4)

  • Week 18 opponent: vs Minnesota

That’s your playoff picture in the NFC, ladies and gentlemen. We’ll talk about how the Vikings should handle things over the next few days, but for now that’s how everyone stacks up in the conference.