Vikings' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 13

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 4, 2021

Vikings' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 13

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    Scot Tucker/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings are one of six NFC teams entering Sunday with five wins.

    Minnesota got dragged into the mess after its loss to the San Francisco 49ers, who occupy the No. 6 seed as the NFC's lone six-win team.

    The Vikings should add to their win column Sunday against the Detroit Lions. After that, the Vikings need to hope that results elsewhere allow them to gain some sort of separation.

    The Atlanta Falcons and Washington Football Team will have most of Minnesota's playoff-centric focus Sunday.

    The Philadelphia Eagles will likely beat the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers are on a bye week and the New Orleans Saints dropped to 5-7 with a loss Thursday night.

    If the Vikings want more chaos in the NFC wild-card hunt, they will root for the Seattle Seahawks to end San Francisco's winning ways.

    If that happens, the Vikings' path to the No. 6 will be easier. Minnesota needs to finish above San Francisco in the standings because of the head-to-head tiebreaker the 49ers gained in Week 12.

Buccaneers over Falcons

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Let's start with the most reasonable result that could go in Minnesota's favor.

    Atlanta is a five-win team with a big asterisk attached to it when it comes to playoff legitimacy.

    The Falcons' wins have come against both New York teams, the Miami Dolphins before their recent winning run, the New Orleans Saints without Jameis Winston and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Atlanta's playoff hopes could come crashing down against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Falcons fell to their divisional rival by 23 points in Week 2, one of four losses of 20 points or more for Arthur Smith's team this season. There is potential for the Bucs to add to that miserable list Sunday.

    If Atlanta loses, it would clear another one of the pretenders from the NFC South out of Minnesota's focus.

    Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans all have worse conference records than Minnesota. That is the first tiebreaker after head-to-head record. Minnesota owns a victory over Carolina, and it is two games better in the loss column in conference record compared to the Falcons and the Saints.

Raiders over Washington Football Team

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team is the one squad Minnesota should want to get rid of now.

    Washington is on a three-game winning streak, and it could wreak havoc on the Vikings' wild-card chances if it continues to win. Ron Rivera's squad already owns a superior NFC record at 5-2, and it has five remaining games against NFC East opposition.

    Sunday's trip to Las Vegas is the last time the Football Team will play outside of its division until the postseason if it gets there.

    Minnesota has one more non-conference game as well—Thursday night's meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Las Vegas is in a playoff race of its own in the AFC, where five six-wins sides are fighting for the No. 7 seed. That is the perfect recipe for the Vikings to gain a game on Washington before its slew of divisional games begin.

Seahawks over 49ers

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Vikings blew their opportunity to gain separation between themselves and the rest of the pack in Week 12. But the No. 6 seed is not completely out of question for the Vikings because they are one game back of the 49ers.

    Minnesota needs some help over the next few weeks to leapfrog San Francisco, but there is always a chance Kyle Shanahan's side stumbles in Seattle. The Seahawks could use the NFC West matchup as a rallying cry to turn around their fortunes and at least play the role of spoiler.

    San Francisco still has to go on the road to face the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams.

    A loss Sunday and some poor results in the coming weeks could drop the 49ers one or more games beneath the Vikings when the playoff standings are finalized.