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NFC Playoff Picture: Vikings Can't Keep Pace for 2nd Straight Week

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings remain out of the NFC playoff picture, and have missed chances in back-to-back weeks to make a move.

Minnesota has lost consecutive road games in San Francisco and Detroit, as the Vikings now sit at 5-7 and in the No. 9 spot in the NFC.

"You can always make an excuse if you want, it doesn't matter," said Vikings safety Harrison Smith. "You have to find a way to win."

The Vikings quickly have a chance to get back in the win column, as Minnesota hosts Pittsburgh on Thursday Night Football. Kickoff is at 7:20 p.m. (CT) from U.S. Bank Stadium.

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 14.

1. Arizona Cardinals (10-2)

Next 3 weeks

12/13 LAR (8-4)

12/19 @DET (1-10-1)

12/25 IND (7-6)

Remaining foes' combined records: 28-32-1

Opponents' win percentage: .467

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

Status: The Cardinals looked in fine form in their return from the bye week with a 33-22 road win over the Bears. Quarterback Kyler Murray returned from an ankle injury and accounted for four total scores. Arizona remains the conference's top seed and is in line for the sole first-round bye with five games left.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Steelers.

2. Green Bay Packers (9-3)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 CHI (4-8)

12/12 @BAL (8-4)

12/19 CLE (6-6)

Remaining foes' combined records: 24-35-1

Opponents' win percentage: .408

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

Status: Green Bay took a step closer to another NFC North title during its bye week. A Vikings loss means the Packers have a four-game lead, even with Minnesota holding the lone head-to-head win thus far. Green Bay will look for its sixth straight win over Chicago this weekend.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 BUF (7-5)

12/19 NO (5-7)

12/26 @CAR (5-7)

Remaining foes' combined records: 25-35

Opponents' win percentage: .417

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

Status: The Buccaneers picked up their third straight win Sunday, and are now rolling toward an NFC South title. Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes in a Week 13 win over the Falcons, the sixth game this season he's thrown at least four scores in a game. The reigning Super Bowl champions look primed for another deep run in January/February.

WRs Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn showcase the team's Primetime Purple uniforms, which will be worn on Thursday Night Football against the Steelers on Dec. 9.

4. Dallas Cowboys (8-4)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @WASH (6-6)

12/19 @NYG (4-8)

12/26 WASH (6-6)

Remaining foes' combined records: 31-29

Opponents' win percentage: .517

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 97 percent

Status: Dallas snapped a two-game skid with a 27-17 win on Thursday night over New Orleans. The Cowboys have a two-game lead in the NFC East and face an important stretch of division games on the horizon. The Vikings need to figure out ways to win games on their own, but Minnesota will certainly he rooting for Dallas over Washington in the coming weeks.

View photos of Vikings players' custom cleats in honor of the NFL's 2021 My Cause My Cleats initiative that allows players to express their commitment to causes that are important to them.

5. Los Angeles Rams (8-4)

Next 3 weeks

12/13 @AZ (10-2)

12/19 SEA (4-8)

12/26 @MIN (5-7)

Remaining foes' combined records: 33-27

Opponents' win percentage: .550

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

Status: The Rams got back on track with a blowout win over the lowly Jaguars on Sunday to end a three-game losing streak. If Los Angeles wants any chance at an NFC West title, it must beat Arizona on the road Sunday. If not, the Rams will look to cement themselves in the first Wild Card spot down the stretch, which includes a game against the Vikings.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

6. Washington Football Team (6-6)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 DAL (8-4)

12/19 @PHI (6-7)

12/26 @DAL (8-4)

Remaining foes' combined records: 32-30

Opponents' win percentage: .516

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 51 percent

Status: Washington is on fire, having won four straight games to move into the NFC's second Wild Card spot. Ron Rivera's team certainly has a chance to continue to prove the doubters wrong, as Washington's final five games are all against NFC East foes. Washington could be one of the league's most interesting teams to follow in the final month of the 2021 season.

7. San Francisco 49ers (6-6)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @CIN (7-5)

12/19 ATL (5-7)

12/23 @TEN (8-4)

Remaining foes' combined records: 30-30

Opponents' win percentage: .500

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 63 percent

Status: The 49ers playoff hopes took a small hit as they saw their three-game win streak halted in Week 13. San Francisco has just two NFC contests remaining, but the 49ers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings, something to keep in mind with five games left.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 Bye Week

12/19 WASH (6-6)

12/26 NYG (4-8)

Remaining foes' combined records: 24-24

Opponents' win percentage: .500

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 38 percent

Status: The Eagles were among the conference's big winners in Week 13, jumping up three spots in the standings. Philadelphia will now become the final NFC team to have its bye week. The Eagles have just four games left, all of them against division rivals. From a Minnesota perspective, the hope is that Philadelphia and Washington split its contests so that teams stay near the jumbled pack.

9. Minnesota Vikings (5-7)

Next 3 weeks

12/09 PIT (6-5-1)

12/20 @CHI (4-8)

12/26 LAR (8-4)

Remaining foes' combined records: 31-28-1

Opponents' win percentage: .525

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 28 percent

Status: The Vikings saw their playoff odds gets slashed in half after a 29-27 loss to the Lions on the final play of the game. Minnesota has now had all but one of its 12 contests be decided by one score. The Vikings need to get back on track soon to try and keep pace in the crowded NFC Wild Card race. With five games left, the Vikings might need to win at least four to give themselves a chance to get in the dance.

10. Carolina Panthers (5-7)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 ATL (5-7)

12/19 @BUF (7-5)

12/26 TB (9-3)

Remaining foes' combined records: 35-25

Opponents' win percentage: .583

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 7 percent

Status: Carolina saw its playoff odds get bumped up to 7 percent over its bye week. But the Panthers had an odd weekend as they fired Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady. Carolina's push for a playoff spot won't be easy, as the Panthers still have a pair of games left against the Buccaneers.

11. Atlanta Falcons (5-7)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @CAR (5-7)

12/19 @SF (6-6)

12/27 DET (1-10-1)

Remaining foes' combined records: 24-35-1

Opponents' win percentage: .408

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 5 percent

Status: The Falcons have lost three of four but are among four 5-7 teams still only one game out of a playoff spot in the mediocre bottom half of the NFC. Atlanta hung with Tampa Bay through two quarters Sunday but was promptly shut out in the second half.

12. New Orleans Saints (5-7)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @NYJ (3-9)

12/19 @TB (8-4)

12/27 MIA (6-7)

Remaining foes' combined records: 28-33

Opponents' win percentage: .459

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 14 percent

Status: The losing streak has reached five game for New Orleans, which is the Saints longest skid since the 2005 season. The Saints tried to spark their offense by starting Taysom Hill at quarterback, but he tossed four interceptions and also hurt his finger. One positive for New Orleans is that it plays just one team with a current winning record the rest of the way.

13. New York Giants (4-8)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @LAC (7-5)

12/19 DAL (8-4)

12/26 @PHI (6-7)

Remaining foes' combined records: 31-30

Opponents' win percentage: .508

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

Status: The Giants have alternated losses and wins in their past seven games, going 3-4 since Week 6. By that metric, New York could get a win Sunday and keep its pattern going. The Giants offense has sputtered in the past three games, scoring just 31 total points. New York ranks 28th overall with just 17.6 points scored per game.

14. Chicago Bears (4-8)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @GB (9-3)

12/20 MIN (5-7)

12/26 @SEA (4-8)

Remaining foes' combined records: 27-33

Opponents' win percentage: .450

Current playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight.com): 0.9 percent

Status: The Bears couldn't rally from an early 14-0 hole in Sunday's loss to the top-seeded Cardinals. Chicago now goes on the road to face Green Bay at Lambeau Field, a venue where the Bears haven't won since 2015. Chicago has allowed 40 sacks this season, the second-highest total in the league.

15. Seattle Seahawks (4-8)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @HOU (2-10)

12/19 @LAR (8-4)

12/26 CHI (4-8)

Remaining foes' combined records: 25-34-1

Opponents' win percentage: .425

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

Status: Seattle ended a three-game losing streak in a big way with an NFC West win over San Francisco. That win gave Seattle the season sweep over its division rival. The Seahawks are still a longshot to make the playoffs, as they still have to play the Rams and Cardinals on the road.

16. Detroit Lions (1-10-1)

Next 3 weeks

12/12 @DEN (6-6)

12/19 AZ (10-2)

12/26 @ATL (5-7)

Remaining foes' combined records: 34-26

Opponents' win percentage: .567

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

Status: The Lions have their first win of the 2021 season, and it came at the Vikings expense. Detroit led 20-6 at halftime and gave away the lead, but rallied on a final drive for the game-winning score at the buzzer. The Lions, who snapped a 15-game winless streak, secured their first win in 364 days.

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