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NFC North still winnable, but Vikings' best shot at playoffs is as a wild card

The division is still up for grabs, but Sunday's loss to the Bears hurt.

Losing to the Bears on Sunday night could cost the Vikings the NFC North, but it doesn't mean the playoffs are out of reach for the Purple. 

According to the New York Times' NFL Playoff Machine, the Vikings currently have a 51 percent chance to make the playoffs, although just a 20 percent chance of winning the division. 

Chicago has a game-and-a-half lead on the Vikings and a 71 percent chance to win the division. If the Bears simply split their remaining six games and finish 10-6, the Vikings would need to go 5-1 or better down the stretch to win the division with a record of 10-5-1. If the Bears go 4-2, the Vikings have to win out. 

Current NFC playoff standings

  1. Saints (9-1) - NFC South champ
  2. Rams (9-1) - NFC West champ
  3. Bears (7-3) - NFC North champ
  4. Redskins (6-4) - NFC East champ
  5. Panthers (6-4) - Wild Card 1
  6. Vikings (5-4-1) - Wild Card 2

Let's say the Vikings don't win the division. It means they're competing with the Panthers, Cowboys, Seahawks, Packers, Falcons and Eagles for the two wild-card spots. As that race goes now, the Panthers and Vikings would be in with the others not far behind. 

Wild Card standings:

  1. Panthers (6-4)
  2. Vikings (5-4-1)
  3. Seahawks (5-5)
  4. Cowboys (5-5)
  5. Packers (4-5-1)
  6. Eagles (4-6)
  7. Falcons (4-6)

Tiebreakers in the wild-card race are settled first by head-to-head record and then conference record. 

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The Cowboys have wins over the Eagles and Falcons but a loss to the Seahawks, thus their fourth-place position in the race. Seattle also has a victory over the Packers. 

The Eagles beat the Falcons but have losses to the Vikings, Cowboys and Panthers. 

Clearly, Minnesota needs wins, and none will be bigger than games this Sunday night at home against the Packers and at the Seahawks on Monday, Dec. 10. 

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