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NFC Playoff Picture: Vikings Status After Week 14

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings overcame multiple key injuries on offense Sunday and mustered a winning drive in the fourth quarter to go along with a dominant donut by their defense.

What the 3-0 victory over the Raiders lacked in the glitz and glamour often featured a couple of blocks away from Allegiant Stadium, it made up for with substance: another tally in the win column.

Emerging from the lowest-scoring indoor game in NFL history was enhanced by the fact that division-leading Detroit lost to Chicago to fall to 9-4.

If the Vikings (7-6) win their final four games (including two against the Lions, of course), they will repeat as NFC North Champions.

But first, Minnesota must do something that's only happened once in franchise history: getting a win at Cincinnati (7-6), where Minnesota is 1-7 all-time and seeking its first win since 1992.

Minnesota's Rich Gannon tossed four touchdowns, and Boomer Esiason threw four interceptions (three snagged by Todd Scott) in that 42-7 victory, which was Vikings Ring of Honor Coach Dennis Green's third win in his fourth game at the helm.

With four weeks to go, only two teams have been eliminated from making the playoffs (New England and Carolina). Twenty-two teams are 6-7 or better, and there are currently 13 teams that are either 7-6 or 6-7.

The Bengals are one of six AFC teams with a 7-6 record, which's Senior Writer Geoff Hobson noted is a record for one conference.

The Vikings received external help over the weekend with the Falcons, Rams, Seahawks and Packers losing to fall to 6-7. The Buccaneers, however, improved to 6-7 by beating the Falcons and moved back into first place in the NFC South. The Saints also are 6-7 but are currently third in the division based on tiebreakers. Tampa Bay is the only NFC South team that has a tiebreaker over Minnesota.

Since the NFL expanded the playoffs in 2020 to include seven teams in each conference, No. 2 seeds will now play on Wild Card Weekend.

Here's a look at the current NFC playoff picture — with conference standings and a status update — as we head into Week 15.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (10-3)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 @ Cardinals (3-10)

12/25 Ravens (10-3)

12/31 @ Commanders (4-9)

1/7/24 Rams (6-7)

Status: The 49ers became the first NFC team to clinch a playoff berth and have a commanding four-game lead in their division on the Rams and Seahawks. One more victory by San Francisco will secure the NFC West.

  1. Dallas Cowboys (10-3)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 @ Bills (7-6)

12/24 @ Dolphins (9-4)

12/30 Lions (9-4)

1/7/24 @ Commanders (4-9)

Status: The Cowboys Texas-two-stepped their way past the Eagles for the lead in the NFC East by improving to 4-1 in division games. Philadelphia is 3-1 in such contests. Either Dallas or Philly will have double-digit wins and be a road playoff team in the first round.

  1. Detroit Lions (9-4)

Remaining Schedule

12/16 Broncos (7-6)

12/24 @ Vikings (7-6)

12/30 @ Cowboys (10-3)

1/7/24 Vikings (7-6)

Status: The Lions remain two games ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North and are hosting a hot Broncos team that has won six of seven Saturday night on NFL Network.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 @ Packers (6-7)

12/24 Jaguars (8-5)

12/31 Saints (6-7)

1/7/24 @ Panthers (1-12)

Status: Tampa Bay improved to 3-4 in road games this season by outlasting Atlanta 29-25 and snapping a four-game streak of road losses that began Oct. 26 at Buffalo. The Bucs have a 4-2 vs. 3-3 common games tiebreaker on the Falcons.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-3)

Remaining Schedule

12/18 @ Seahawks (6-7)

12/25 Giants (5-8)

12/31 Cardinals (3-10)

1/7/24 @ Giants (5-8)

Status: Back-to-back losses against San Francisco (42-19) and at Dallas (33-13) have taken a little steam from the Eagles becoming the NFC's fastest to 10 wins this season.

  1. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

Remaining Schedule

12/16 @ Bengals (7-6)

12/24 Lions (9-4)

12/31 Packers (6-7)

1/7/24 @ Lions (9-4)

Status: The Vikings will close out their slate of AFC foes this week before returning to critical division games. Minnesota must slow down a Cincinnati attack that has been rolling on the river with former Viking Jake Browning, whose 79.3 percent completion percentage in his first three starts is the highest by an NFL QB in records kept since 1950.

  1. Green Bay Packers (6-7)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 Buccaneers (6-7)

12/24 @ Panthers (1-12)

12/31 @ Vikings (7-6)

1/7/24 Bears (5-8)

Status: Green Bay was unable to hang on late Monday night and fell 24-22 at the New York Giants but still has a slight edge in a crowded field.

  1. Los Angeles Rams (6-7)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 Commanders (4-9)

12/21 Saints (6-7)

12/31 @ Giants (4-9)

1/7/24 @ 49ers (10-3)

Status: Like the Packers, the Rams also had their three-game winning streak snapped in Week 14 on the final play of the game. The Ravens scored on a 76-yard punt return in overtime.

  1. Seattle Seahawks (6-7)

Remaining Schedule

12/18 Eagles (10-3)

12/24 @ Titans (5-8)

12/31 Steelers (7-6)

1/7/24 @ Cardinals (3-10)

Status: The Seahawks have lost four in a row and five of six since the beginning of November. Seattle is 4-2 at home this season.

  1. Atlanta Falcons (6-7)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 @ Panthers (1-12)

12/24 Colts (7-6)

12/31 @ Bears (5-8)

1/7/24 @ Saints (6-7)

Status: Atlanta missed its opportunity to win three consecutive games for the first time within a season since the final four contests of 2019. The home loss to Tampa Bay dropped the Falcons from the opportunity to open a narrow lead in the NFC South.

  1. New Orleans Saints (6-7)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 Giants (5-8)

12/21 @ Rams (6-7)

12/31 @ Buccaneers (6-7)

1/7/24 Falcons (6-7)

Status: A convincing win against the Panthers snapped the Saints three-game losing streak, but New Orleans is going to have to rally past multiple foes.

  1. New York Giants (5-8)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 @ Saints (6-7)

12/25 @ Eagles (10-3)

12/31 Rams (6-7)

1/7/24 Eagles (10-3)

Status: Tommy DeVito improved to 3-1 as a starting quarterback and has thrown seven touchdowns against one interception in his first four starts. After taking 20 sacks in his first three starts, DeVito was not taken down once by the Packers.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 7, 2024.

  1. Chicago Bears (5-8)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 @ Browns (8-5)

12/24 Cardinals (3-10)

12/31 Falcons (6-7)

1/7/24 @ Packers (6-7)

Status: The Bears didn't make the same mistake and let the Lions off the hook for a second time, avenging a Week 11 loss that occurred after leading 26-14 with 4:15 remaining. Instead, Chicago prevailed at home Sunday 28-13 by holding Detroit scoreless in the second half.

  1. Washington Commanders (4-9)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 @ Rams (6-7)

12/24 @ Jets (5-8)

12/31 49ers (10-3)

1/7/24 Cowboys (10-3)

Status: The Commanders are returning from a Week 14 bye with a long road trip.

  1. Arizona Cardinals (3-10)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 49ers (10-3)

12/24 @ Bears (5-8)

12/31 @ Eagles (10-3)

1/7/24 Seahawks (6-7)

Status: In Week 14, the Cardinals joined the Commanders as the final two teams to take their byes in 2023. Now, it's a chance to play a team that's already secured a playoff berth.

  1. Carolina Panthers (1-12)

Remaining Schedule

12/17 Falcons (6-7)

12/24 Packers (6-7)

12/31 @ Jaguars (8-5)

1/7/24 Buccaneers (6-7)

Status: The Panthers remain the only NFC team that has been mathematically eliminated.