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Pros and cons of potential Vikings playoff opponents

Seven teams are competing for four playoff spots.

The NFC playoffs begin one month from today and there are still about a million different scenarios that could unfold, but if the Vikings do reach the playoffs they'll likely do so as one of the two wild cards, although a division title is still up for grabs. 

Assuming the Rams and Saints will hold on to the top two seeds, the Vikings would be the 3- or- 4-seed if they win the NFC North or the 5- or- 6-seed if they get in as a wild card. 

Current NFC playoff picture

  1. Rams (11-1) - NFC West champ
  2. Saints (10-2) - NFC South champ
  3. Bears (8-4) - NFC North champ
  4. Cowboys (7-5) - NFC East champ
  5. Seahawks (7-5) Wild Card
  6. Vikings (6-5-1) Wild Card

On the outside looking in are the Panthers (6-6), Eagles (6-6) and Redskins (6-6). The Buccaneers (5-7) aren't dead yet, but odds are good that seven teams – Bears, Cowboys, Seahawks, Vikings, Panthers, Eagles and Redskins – are fighting for four playoff spots. 

As the 6-seed, the Vikings could play: 

  • at Bears
  • at Cowboys
  • at Eagles
  • at Redskins

As the 5-seed, the Vikings could play: 

  • at Cowboys
  • at Bears
  • at Eagles
  • at Redskins

As the 3- or- 4-seed, the Vikings could play: 

  • vs. Seahawks
  • vs. Bears
  • vs. Eagles
  • vs. Redskins
  • vs. Cowboys
  • vs. Panthers

So which of the other six teams would the Vikings prefer? Here are the pros and cons for each. 

Chicago Bears

Biggest pro: If the Vikings defense is playing way its capable of, it's potentially an ideal matchup against quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is turnover prone and has never been in the playoffs. 

Biggest con: The Bears boast arguably the best defense in the NFL and playing at Soldier Field in January spells disaster.

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest pro: Teams that can stop the run tend to do well against the Cowboys, and Minnesota's ninth-ranked rush defense should be able to contain Ezekiel Elliott. 

Biggest con: Dallas has won four straight and has the top scoring defense in the NFC (18.6 points allowed per game). 

Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest pro: Minnesota was able to win in Philly earlier this season, and the Eagles have yet to show any signs of being the team they were en route to last year's Super Bowl win. 

Biggest con: What if the Eagles wake up and become what they were last season?

Washington Redskins

Biggest pro: It'll be a miracle if Washington makes the playoffs with third-string quarterback Mark Sanchez running the offense. If it happens, the Vikings would probably eat him alive. 

Biggest con: What if Adrian Peterson runs wild on the Vikings?

Seattle Seahawks

Biggest pro: The only way the Vikings and Seahawks are likely to meet in the playoffs is if Minnesota wins the NFC North, and that means this potential matchup would be at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Biggest con: Minnesota is 0-4 all-time against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and he's got the 'Hawks rolling again at the right time. 

Carolina Panthers

Biggest pro: Like Seattle, this game would be at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Panthers are reeling with four straight losses and are 1-5 on the road this season. 

Biggest con: Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey are one of the most dangerous 1-2 offensive punches in the NFL. 

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