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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - On the heels of their 36-22 victory in St. Louis against the Rams, the Minnesota Vikings are right in the mix of things for the Wild Card playoff spots in the NFC. In fact, if the season ended this week (which it doesn't) the Vikings would be in the playoffs as the #6 seed and heading to Green Bay for Wild Card Weekend! That being said, with two weeks left in the NFL season, a lot can happen that could change the Vikings positioning. But at the end of the day, they are still in the hunt.
Here is how the NFC breaks down after a crazy week 15.
1.) Atlanta Falcons (12-2) *
2.) San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) #
3.) Green Bay Packers (10-4) *
4.) Washington Redskins (8-6)
5.) Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
6.) Minnesota Vikings (8-6)
7.) Chicago Bears (8-6)
8.) Dallas Cowboys (8-6)
9.) New York Giants (8-6)
* = Clinched Division
# = Clinched Playoff Berth
Yes, some strange tie breakers (mainly intra-divisional records) pits the Vikings as the current sixth and final playoff seed in the NFC. Here is a brief look ahead at what the teams in contention will be facing.
Minnesota Vikings - Remaining schedule @ HOU, vs GB
By some strange understanding of the tie breakers, the Minnesota Vikings are currently in a playoff spot, but even with two wins do not control their own destiny. Playing against the Houston Texans next weekend will likely be the biggest test left on the remaining schedule. With a tough defense and a dynamic offense, with a win next week the Texans could clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Arian Foster and Andre Johnson have been playing out of their minds lately. Still, so have the Vikings. Houston brings in the league's second best rushing defense, but they have not seen the likes of Adrian Peterson this year. If Christian Ponder can do a little more than he has been the past few weeks this game is winnable for the Vikings. By the time week 17 rolls around, Green Bay will likely have their positioning set in stone and they too have proven to be vulnerable.
Washington Redskins - Remaining schedule @ PHI, vs DAL
Without Robert Griffin III, the Redskins took to the field this last weekend and whooped up on the Cleveland Browns (we're happy for you). With PHI and DAL still on their schedule, the Redskins will have two tough games ahead of them. The Redskins do hold the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Vikings.
Seattle Seahawks - Remaining Schedule vs SF, vs STL
With two home games left on the schedule the Seahawks have are in a good position when compared to the Vikings. Up one game and owners of the head-to-head tie-breaker with the Vikings, the Seahawks are essentially two games up on the Vikes. Having scored 108 points over the past two weeks, they are also one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
Chicago Bears - Remaining Schedule @ AZ, @ DET
Losers of five of their last six games, the Bears are reeling in a bad way. Their next opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, got off the schnide this week with an impressive 38-10 win against the Detroit Lions. Who knows which version of Jay Cutler will show up and who knows which rendition of the Arizona Cardinals will make an appearance. Still the Bears have an easier road should they decide to take it.
Dallas Cowboys - Remaining Schedule vs NO, @ WAS
With maybe the second toughest remaining schedule after the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys are clinging to the coat tails of quarterback Tony Romo. How Romo goes, so goes the Cowboys' playoff chances. New Orleans is out of the playoff race but that doesn't mean that they will be backing down. Dallas' week 17 matchup with the Redskins could very well decide the playoff fates for both teams.
New York Giants - Remaining Schedule @ BAL, vs PHI
Once thought to be the cream of the crop in the NFC, the Giants have dropped two of their last three games including a 34-0 shellacking at the hands of the Falcons this weekend. Still, the Giants are dangerous, but their battle the rest of the way will be uphill. Baltimore can be plucky and who knows what they will face from the depleted Philadelphia Eagles in week 17.
Long story short, if the Vikings hope to land a spot in the playoffs it will come in the form of a wild card invitation. Because of the way the NFC East could flesh out over the last two weeks, the Vikings do not control their own destiny however there are multiple avenues that lead to the playoffs.
Most Likely: Vikings win out and two of the three NFC East teams (WAS/DAL/NYG) lose at least one game.
Most Unlikely: Vikings could lose out and still make the playoffs. Would then need DAL, NYG & CHI to lose out and NO/TB to lose once.
With a playoff birth on the line and Adrian on the verge of making league history, these last two weeks of Vikings football are sure to be fun! Buckle up Vikings fans, we're about to go for a wild ride!