And just like that the Vikings have a spot in the playoff race

If the playoffs started today, the Vikings would face the Packers in the first round.
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Justin Jefferson

For the first time this season the Vikings have a .500 record and they now find themselves firmly in the NFC playoff picture. 

Minnesota's 27-24 overtime victory over Jacksonville on Sunday got the Vikings to 6-6, and they jumped into 7th place in the NFC after the Arizona Cardinals (6-6) lost to the Los Angeles Rams (8-5). Minnesota currently owns the tiebreaker over Arizona because of a better winning percentage against common opponents. 

The common opponents the Vikings and Cardinals have are the Seahawks, Lions, Panthers and Cowboys. Arizona is a combined 2-3 against those teams compared to the Vikings being 2-2 versus the same competition. 

What's more is that the Vikings and Cardinals don't have any more common opponents, meaning a tiebreaker at the end of the season would also go the way of the Vikings. 

San Francisco can muddle the playoff race with a win over Buffalo on Monday night. That would get the 49ers to 6-6, but again, Minnesota currently has a better winning percentage against common opponents with San Francisco. 

Minnesota got more help Sunday when the Lions stormed back from down 10 points in the final five minutes to shock the Bears in Chicago, meaning the Lions and Bears are both now 5-7. 

The top seed in the NFC gets a bye into the second round of the playoffs. The 7 seed, meanwhile, will play on the road Wild Card Weekend against the 2 seed, which as of today is Green Bay. Vikings-Packers at Lambeau Field in January? Scary. 

That's why pulling an upset on the road against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be a big deal next Sunday. If Minnesota can do it, they'll be 7-6 and slotted 6th in the NFC playoff picture. The Rams are currently seeded 4th. 

Perhaps the greatest thing that could happen to any team – outside of getting the 1 seed – is landing the 5 seed. That would mean a trip to New York to face the Giants (or whatever bad team wins the NFC East) in the first round. That said, the Giants did just upset the Seahawks in Seattle. New York's defense is nothing to scoff at. 

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