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NFC Playoff Outlook Entering Week 15

The Vikings helped themselves by defeating the Jaguars 25-16 in Jacksonville on Sunday.

According to FOX, it was only the fourth game in NFL history to be decided by that score. It also was the second Vikings game this season, equaling Minnesota's win at Tennessee to open the season.

Now, Minnesota (7-6) will host another AFC South foe, Indianapolis, which is 6-7 after falling to Houston.

The Vikings will try to sweep their interconference schedule when the host the Colts at noon (CT) Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

While it was good that the Vikings reduced some of the self-harm that kept them from winning at Detroit on Thanksgiving and against Dallas on Dec. 1, they didn't receive outside help in the race for a berth in the NFC playoffs.

With Monday's game an all-AFC matchup, here's a look at the NFC Playoff picture.

Minnesota is one of nine NFC teams that is 7-6 or better with three games to play.

Detroit (9-4) maintained its two-game grip on the NFC North by defeating the 3-10 Bears 20-17 on Sunday. The Lions recorded their eighth fourth-quarter comeback victory this season, setting an NFL record. Matthew Stafford threw a pick 6 in the final period, but then capped the winning drive on a scramble.

The Vikings need to win their remaining three games and need the Lions to lose all three in order for Minnesota to defend its NFC North crown. Similarly, if the Packers (7-6) won out, and the Lions lost out, then Green Bay would win the division.

The other division leaders are Dallas (11-2), Seattle (8-4-1) and Atlanta (8-5). The Cowboys lost to the Giants 10-7 on *Sunday Night Football. *New York completed the season sweep of its divisional rival and prevented Dallas from clinching the division.

The Seahawks committed six turnovers in a blowout 38-10 loss at Lambeau Field but stayed well ahead of Arizona (5-7-1) in the NFC West.

The Falcons trounced the Rams 42-14 in Los Angeles to remain a step ahead of the Buccaneers in the AFC South via a tiebreaker. Tampa Bay defeated New Orleans 16-11 by picking off Drew Brees three times.

The Giants and Buccaneers are the leaders in the race for the two Wild Card spots

Washington (7-5-1) won at Philadelphia (5-8) to remain a half-game ahead of Minnesota for the first outside-looking-in spot.

Current positioning and remaining schedules:

No. 1 seed: Dallas (11-2)

Final three: vs. Buccaneers on Dec. 18; vs. Lions on Dec. 26; at Eagles on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 22-17

No. 2 seed: Detroit (9-4)

Final three: at Giants on Dec. 18; at Cowboys on Dec. 26; vs. Packers on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 27-12

No. 3 seed: Seattle (8-4-1)

Final three: vs. Rams on Dec. 15; vs. Cardinals on Dec. 24; at 49ers on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 10-28-1

No. 4 seed: Atlanta (8-5)

Final three: vs. 49ers on Dec. 18; at Panthers on Dec. 24; vs. Saints on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 11-28

No. 5 seed: New York (9-4)

Final three: vs. Lions on Dec. 18; at Eagles on Dec. 22; at Redskins on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 21-17-1

No. 6 seed: Tampa Bay (8-5)

Final three: at Cowboys on Dec. 18; at Saints on Dec. 24; vs. Panthers on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 21-18

Note: Tampa Bay and Atlanta split their head-to-head and are now both 3-1 in the division, but the Falcons have an edge in the tiebreaker, record vs. common opponents.

Needing wins and help (in order of next in line):

Washington (7-5-1)

Final three: vs. Panthers on Dec. 19; at Bears on Dec. 24; vs. Giants on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 17-22

Minnesota (7-6)

Final three: vs. Colts on Dec. 18; at Packers on Dec. 24; vs. Bears on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 16-23

Green Bay (7-6)

Final three: at Bears on Dec. 18; vs. Vikings on Dec. 24; at Lions on Jan. 1

Combined record of remaining opponents: 19-20

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