The 14th week of the NFL's 2015 schedule kicked off Thursday night when the Vikings traveled to Arizona to take on the playoff-bound Cardinals. The 23-20 loss puts the Vikings at 8-5 with 3 games remaining on the calendar.
Although the Vikings week is done, there are still plenty of games that could impact them as the playoff race heats up. Some impact the division race with Green Bay, while others will have an effect on the wildcard race.
As a Vikings fan, if you're looking for a game to watch this afternoon, these three have the biggest impact on Minnesota's playoff future.
Dallas at Green Bay: The Vikings will see a familiar face as they watch NFC North rivals Green Bay take on Dallas. Former Vikings QB Matt Cassel and the Cowboys will travel to Lambeau Field fresh off of a Monday Night Football victory. With playoff hopes of their own, the Cowboys will look to snag one on the road while the Packers will look to take a one-game lead in the division race.
After losing seven consecutive games in the middle of the season, the Cowboys have won two of their last three contests. At 4-8, the Cowboys are just a game out of the NFC East lead. A victory would keep them alive in the division, most likely their only chance at making the postseason.
Green Bay, who is coming off of a 10-day break following their Hail Mary victory at Detroit last Thursday night, could get ahead in the division. With the Vikings set to face Green Bay in the final game of the season, it looks likely that the NFC North could come down to who comes out ahead in Week 17.
Seattle at Baltimore: In the wildcard race, Seattle could sit in the 5th spot heading into Week 15 with a road win today. After defeating the Vikings 38-7 last Sunday, they currently hold the head-to-head lead.
Seattle enters today winners of three straight games and four of their last five. They look to be a team that is hitting their stride as the season wraps up. NFC champs the past two seasons, the Seahawks are no stranger to crucial games late in the year.
View exclusive images shot by the team photographer from the Dec. 11 game against Arizona.
QB Matt Schaub, who has been the Ravens starter the past two weeks, could miss the contest. If that's the case, former Bears QB Jimmy Clausen would get the nod. Clausen, serving as the Bears starter earlier this season, faced Seattle on September 27.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay is a team gaining steam in the wildcard race as the season nears the end. Led by rookie QB Jameis Winston, the team with the worst record in the NFL last season is currently 6-6 and winners of three of their last four.
Facing a division foe, a win would help keep Tampa Bay as a contender for one of the NFC wildcard spots. Earlier this season, Winston earned his first win as an NFL player with a 26-19 win over the Saints.
New Orleans will look to end their slide that's seen them lose four consecutive contests. At 4-8, they are a longshot to make the playoffs and a loss would end all hopes of a postseason berth. A win today could help set them up for a strong finish to 2015 – playoffs or not.