With the Vikings (9-5) ready to host the New York Giants (6-8) on Sunday Night Football in the penultimate game of Week 16, here's a recap of what the rest of this week's results mean to Minnesota's playoff chances:
Atlanta's upset to end Carolina's perfect season, and the toppling of Seattle by St. Louis mean that the Vikings can only clinch a berth this week by defeating the Giants.
A 10th win this week or next secures Minnesota's first postseason appearance since 2012.
Arizona's 38-8 defeat of Green Bay means the Vikings can still win the NFC North and the No. 3 seed by beating the Packers next week, regardless of what happens against the Giants. The three seed will host the No. 6 seed in the Wild Card round, which could be a rematch of the Border Battle.
If the Vikings and Seahawks end up with identical records, Seattle would earn the higher seed. If the Seahawks and Packers close the regular season with identical records, Green Bay has the tiebreaker.
Carolina (14-1) and Arizona (13-2) are still vying for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but no other team is in the running for a first-round bye.
Washington (8-7) clinched the NFC East Saturday night with a win over Philadelphia. The Redskins will be the No. 4 seed and host the No. 5 seed in a Wild Card game, regardless of what happens the rest of the season.
In other words, before the Vikings-Giants game, here are the potential ramifications of several Week 17 games: * *
Minnesota at Green Bay (winner claims the NFC North and No. 3 seed)
Seattle at Arizona (Seahawks playing for No. 5 seed; Cardinals hoping to win home-field advantage)
New Orleans at Atlanta (Falcons need help and a victory for a Wild Card berth; if Atlanta loses, the Vikings would be in regardless of Minnesota's games against the Giants or Packers)
Tampa Bay at Carolina (Panthers can secure home-field advantage with a win)
Washington at Dallas (Redskins are No. 4 seed regardless of anything else this season)