The Vikings won't play on Wild Card weekend, but that doesn't mean intrigue lacks for Vikings fans. Here are five storylines to watch this weekend as Vikings Nation sits back to see who will visit U.S. Bank Stadium a week from Sunday.
1. Familiar foes battle in NFC
The Vikings will not be joined by any fellow NFC North teams in the postseason, but they have played all four of the NFC teams who will play on Wild Card weekend and went 3-1 in those matchups. The Vikings won games at home versus Los Angles and New Orleans and on the road in Atlanta, but lost to Carolina in Week 14.
2. Stingy defense meets prolific offense in LA
Among teams playing on Wild Card weekend, only the Jacksonville Jaguars have surrendered fewer points than the Atlanta Falcons and no one in the NFL has scored more points than the Los Angeles Rams this season. To open the NFC playoffs, the Falcons defense will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams offense. These two teams did not face one another in the regular season. Atlanta would travel to Philadelphia if they win, while the Rams would head to Minnesota if they come out on top.
3. For Carolina, is the third time a charm?
New Orleans can't seem to get rid of their pesky division rivals and Carolina is hoping the third time's a charm. These two teams will meet for the third time this weekend – New Orleans swept Carolina in the regular season with a 34-13 win in Charlotte and a 31-21 win at home, which is where this showdown will be played.
4. Buffalo makes first playoff appearance since 1999
It's been 17 years since the Buffalo Bills have played in the playoffs. That drought ends on Sunday, as the wild card Bills travel to face the AFC South champion Jacksonville Jaguars. Playoff re-entry will not be easy for Buffalo, as they face the NFL's No. 1 passing defense (170 yards allowed per game), No. 2 scoring defense (16.8 points per game) and No. 2 defense in sacks (55).
5. Falcons hit the road for NFC title defense
The Falcons fought off the Super Bowl hangover to do what so many runner ups have not been able to – qualify for the postseason the year after losing in the Super Bowl. Atlanta finished the regular season by winning three of its final four games, including a Week 17 triumph that clinched the No. 6 seed. As the sixth seed, though, the defending NFC champions must win a string of road games to advance to their second consecutive Super Bowl.