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Playoff picture: Vikings chances in wild-card race, NFC North

Philadelphia's win over Washington was huge for the Vikings.

Philadelphia's win over Washington on Monday night helped put the Vikings back into sixth place in the NFC playoff picture, but it also jumbled the wild-card race. 

If the playoffs started this week, the Vikings would be the 6-seed (the second wild card) and would meet the 3-seed Chicago Bears at Soldier Field during wild-card weekend, Jan. 5-6. 

NFC playoff standings:

  1. Rams (11-1)
  2. Saints (10-2)
  3. Bears (8-4)
  4. Cowboys (7-5)
  5. Seahawks (7-5)
  6. Vikings (6-5-1)

The Rams and Saints are in line for byes into the Divisional Round while wild-card weekend would also feature the Cowboys hosting the Seahawks. 

NFC wild card standings:

  1. Seahawks (7-5)
  2. Vikings (6-5-1)
  3. Panthers (6-6)
  4. Eagles (6-6)
  5. Redskins (6-6)
  6. Buccaneers (5-7)

The Vikings still have to take care of business but they're in pretty good shape because they've beaten the Eagles and have more conference wins than the Panthers, not to mention that the Redskins hopes now hang on the arm of third-string quarterback Mark Sanchez. 

What's more is that Philly has the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the NFC, and the Panthers still have to play the Saints twice. 

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According to the New York Times NFL Playoff Machine, the Vikings have a 56 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 17 percent chance to win the NFC North. 

The playoff race gets extremely interesting if the Vikings beat Seattle this week and the Bears lose at home to the Rams. In that scenario, Minnesota would be 7-5-1 and the Bears would be 8-5 with just three weeks to go, including a Week 17 matchup potentially for the division title at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Seattle has opened as a 3 1/2-point favorite against the Vikings and the Bears are 4 1/2-point underdogs to the Rams, according to the Westgate Superbook. 

The Vikings have lost four straight to Seattle, including the 2015 playoffs when Blair Walsh missed a chip shot field goal in sub-zero temperatures for a 10-9 loss. 

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