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NFC Playoff Picture: Vikings in No. 6 Seed With 7 Games Left

EAGAN, Minn. — Through 10 games, the Vikings 2021 season hasn't been for the faint of heart.

Minnesota stands at 5-5 thus far (with all but one contest decided by seven or fewer points), a record good enough to find the Vikings in the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture thanks to tiebreakers.

That hardly impresses Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who is looking for a third straight win Sunday when Minnesota visits San Francisco, which is also 5-5 but currently out of a playoff spot at eighth overall in the NFC.

"Well, this week, if we can get to 6-5, it'd be a good deal," Zimmer said. "But we just have to keep winning games. There are so many things that are happening in the NFL right now, that we just have to keep trying to win games.

"San Francisco is a really good team. Offensively and defensively, they do a lot of elite things. So, you know, we have to go on the road and we have to play well," Zimmer added. "I mean, 6-5 isn't our goal. We don't want to be 6-5, we want to be 12-5 if we can. You know, I think it's important that if we get another win, then we can hopefully stack a few together."

A reminder that there are seven postseason berths in each conference and that only the No. 1 seed gets a first-round bye, a format the league adopted in 2020.

Here's the look at the NFC playoff picture — with standings, current playoff odds, and a status update — as we head into Week 12.

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 Bye Week

12/05 @CHI (3-7)

12/13 LAR (7-3)

Remaining foes' combined records: 26-34-1

Opponents' win percentage: .434

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 99-plus percent

Status: The Cardinals not only lead the NFC, but also currently have the best record in the entire league. Arizona is also the NFL's only team with fewer than three losses. The Cardinals are on a bye this week, but will hope star quarterback Kyler Murray is able to return soon. He has missed the past three games with an ankle injury.

2. Green Bay Packers (8-3)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 LAR (7-3)

12/05 Bye Week

12/12 CHI (3-7)

Remaining foes' combined records: 34-33-1

Opponents' win percentage: .507

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 99-plus percent

Status: The Packers took the 'L' in the first Border Battle of the season on Sunday, a loss that knocked Green Bay from the top spot in the conference. The Packers are a near-certainty to make the playoffs with eight wins already, but Green Bay will have to go on without star offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, who had been filling in at left tackle but tore his ACL in Week 11.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 @IND (6-5)

12/05 @ATL (4-6)

12/12 BUF (6-4)

Remaining foes' combined records: 33-40

Opponents' win percentage: .452

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 95 percent

Status: The Buccaneers snapped a two-game skid with a win over the Giants on Monday Night Football. Tampa Bay, last season's Super Bowl Champion, leads the NFC South and will try to position itself for the highest possible playoff seed going forward. The Buccaneers have that Tom Brady guy at quarterback, something that will likely come in handy when the playoffs roll around. If the season ended today, the Vikings would face the Buccaneers on the road in the first round of the NFC playoffs.

4. Dallas Cowboys (7-3)

Next 3 weeks

11/25 LV (5-5)

12/05 @NO (5-5)

12/12 @WASH (4-6)

Remaining foes' combined records: 35-38

Opponents' win percentage: .479

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 90 percent

Status: Dallas has a comfortable lead in the NFC East, but the Cowboys are likely worried about their health at the moment, especially with their annual Thanksgiving Day game on deck for Thursday. The Cowboys were without star wide receiver Amari Cooper in Week 11 (Reserve/COVID list), and fellow star wide out CeeDee Lamb left Sunday's loss against the Chiefs with a concussion. Dallas does have a seemingly favorable schedule down the stretch, as they currently play just one team with a winning record the rest of the way.

View the Vikings "Big Head Mode" - Border Battle edition - as the team defeated the Packers in Week 11 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

5. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 @GB (8-3)

12/05 JAX (2-8)

12/13 @AZ (9-2)

Remaining foes' combined records: 39-33

Opponents' win percentage: .542

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 84 percent

Status: The Rams will be well-rested coming off a bye, and they'll need to be ready to go given the tough nature of their upcoming schedule. The Rams final seven games feature three current division leaders and four total teams currently in playoff spots. Los Angeles, which is no stranger to stars, has loaded up of late with a trade for Von Miller and signing Odell Beckham, Jr., plus the offseason trade with Detroit for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

6. Minnesota Vikings (5-5)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 @SF (5-5)

12/05 @DET (0-8-1)

12/09 PIT (5-4-1)

Remaining foes' combined records: 31-37-2

Opponents' win percentage: .457

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 59 percent

Status: The Vikings roller-coaster ride seems to be at its highest point at the moment, given that Minnesota is coming off back-to-back victories against teams with winning records. But there is still plenty of work to be done, beginning Sunday in San Francisco against a 49ers team that also holds NFC playoff aspirations. While Minnesota currently has a 59-percent chance to make the dance, those odds jump to 83 percent with a win in Week 12. The Vikings seem to be getting hot as the final stretch looms, and this is when teams want to be playing their best football of the season.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Nov. 23, 2021.

7. New Orleans Saints (5-5)

Next 3 weeks

11/25 BUF (6-4)

12/02 DAL (7-3)

12/12 @NYJ (2-8)

Remaining foes' combined records: 35-37

Opponents' win percentage: .486

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 34 percent

Status: New Orleans is currently one of three teams in the NFC at 5-5, but the Saints have slid recently with three straight losses. New Orleans will look to get back on track quickly in a Thanksgiving night game against Buffalo at home. The Saints could be boosted by the return of running back Alvin Kamara, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury.

8. San Francisco 49ers (5-5)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 MIN (5-5)

12/05 @SEA (3-7)

12/12 @CIN (6-4)

Remaining foes' combined records: 35-36

Opponents' win percentage: .493

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 49 percent

Status: Much like the Vikings, the 49ers have managed to rebound and stay afloat in the playoff picture despite a rocky start. San Francisco opened its season 2-4, but has won three of its past four games to get back in the race. Not only does the winner of Sunday's game get an edge in the win column, but they would also have the head-to-head tiebreaker if the teams were to finish with the same record at the end of the season. Sunday is a big one by the Bay.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 @NYG (3-7)

12/05 @NYJ (2-8)

12/12 Bye Week

Remaining foes' combined records: 23-37

Opponents' win percentage: .383

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 40 percent

Status: Philadelphia, winners of three of its past four games, has climbed back into the playoff chase in November. And the Eagles might be a team to watch down the stretch considering their favorable schedule, which features just one team with a winning record the rest of the way.

10. Carolina Panthers (5-6)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 @MIA (4-7)

12/05 Bye Week

12/12 ATL (4-6)

Remaining foes' combined records: 33-28

Opponents' win percentage: .541

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 15 percent

Status: Like most teams battling for an NFC Wild Card spot, the Panthers have endured a topsy-turvy season. Carolina started hot at 3-0, but then lost four straight games before splitting its past four contests. Quarterback Sam Darnold appears out for the season, as the team has turned to old friend Cam Newton in that spot. It's worth noting the Vikings have the head-to-head win over the Panthers because of their Week 6 victory.

11. Washington Football Team (4-6)

Next 3 weeks

11/29 SEA (3-7)

12/05 @LV (5-5)

12/12 DAL (7-3)

Remaining foes' combined records: 35-37

Opponents' win percentage: .486

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 25 percent

Status: Here's another NFC East team that has given itself a chance to make a run with two straight wins. Washington has seven games remaining, beginning with games against Seattle and Las Vegas. But it's all division foes the rest of the way, including two games apiece against Dallas and Philadelphia. Those contests should help decide the division and also separate some teams in the Wild Card chase.

12. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 @JAX (2-8)

12/05 TB (7-3)

12/12 @CAR (5-6)

Remaining foes' combined records: 30-40-1

Opponents' win percentage: .430

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 4 percent

Status: The Falcons are coming off a pair of back-to-back rough losses, falling to the Cowboys and Patriots by a combined score of 68-3. If Atlanta can hang tough and navigate road games against San Francisco and Buffalo, its Week 18 matchup against New Orleans could be pivotal in the NFC playoff picture if both teams are still in contention.

13. New York Giants (3-7)

Next 3 weeks

11/28 PHI (5-6)

12/05 @MIA (4-7)

12/12 @LAC (6-4)

Remaining foes' combined records: 34-39

Opponents' win percentage: .466

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 2 percent

Status: The Giants have split their past four games, but are also trying to recover from a rough 1-5 start. New York hung close with Tampa Bay through halftime on Monday Night Football, but the Giants were shut out in the second half. Former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has 17 catches for 147 yards and a score in his first season in the Big Apple.

14. Chicago Bears (3-7)

Next 3 weeks

11/25 @DET (0-9-1)

12/05 AZ (9-2)

12/12 @GB (8-3)

Remaining foes' combined records: 33-28-1

Opponents' win percentage: .540

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 1 percent

Status: The Vikings haven't seen the Bears yet this season, as the division rivals will meet twice in the final four weeks of the regular season. Chicago has a tough slate before then, with a short week coming up against Detroit on Thanksgiving, followed by back-to-back games against Arizona and Green Bay. Quarterback Justin Fields has shown flashes of potential in his rookie season, but the No. 10 overall pick is also banged up right now. Minnesota's (seemingly annual) regular-season finale against Chicago could be a win-and-in situation for the Vikings in Week 18.

15. Seattle Seahawks (3-7)

Next 3 weeks

11/29 @WASH (4-6)

12/05 SF (5-5)

12/12 @HOU (2-8)

Remaining foes' combined records: 30-40-1

Opponents' win percentage: .430

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 4 percent

Status: It's certainly strange to see the Seahawks, a team that has made the postseason eight of the past 10 seasons, down near the bottom of the conference standings. Russell Wilson's finger injury played a part in Seattle's slow start, but the team has also lost the past two games in which Wilson has played. The Seahawks only play two teams with a winning record the rest of the way, so perhaps a late-season charge is possible, but Seattle will have to make up a lot of ground at this point. And keep in mind, the Vikings hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, too.

16. Detroit Lions (0-9-1)

Next 3 weeks

11/25 CHI (3-7)

12/05 MIN (5-5)

12/12 @DEN (8-3)

Remaining foes' combined records: 35-35

Opponents' win percentage: .500

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): Less than 1 percent

Status: The Lions are no longer defeated, as they earned a tie against the Steelers in Week 10. But Detroit and first-year head coach Dan Campbell are still searching for their first win. The Lions next two games are back-to-back home tilts against division foes. Detroit currently ranks 27th overall in yards gained (312.0) and allowed (376.7) per game.

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