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Vikings control their own destiny in NFC playoff picture

The Vikings sit in the NFC's final playoff spot with three weeks to go.

After Monday's win over the Chicago Bears and Washington's loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday night, the Minnesota Vikings sit in the final spot in the NFC playoff race.

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With three weeks to go, the Vikings control their own playoff destiny. But it won't be easy as two playoff contenders remain on the schedule and Minnesota must pull away from a three-way tie to be on the road to Los Angeles.

6. San Francisco 49ers (8-6)

  • Thursday vs. Tennessee (9-5)
  • Jan. 2 vs. Houston (3-11)
  • Jan. 9 at Rams (10-4)

We'll put the 49ers on this list because if they stumble, the Vikings have a chance to improve their playoff seeding. Those odds aren't good as San Francisco has won six of their past eight after starting the season 2-4.

San Francisco has a pair of difficult games down the stretch but also hold the tiebreaker over the Vikings after their Week 12 victory in Santa Clara. If the Vikings can win their final three games, they have a chance to jump into the No. 6 seed but one win by the 49ers makes this an unlikely scenario.

7. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)

  • Dec. 26 vs. Los Angeles (10-4)
  • Jan. 2 at Green Bay (11-3)
  • Jan. 9 vs. Chicago (4-10)

Through all the ups and downs, the Vikings still have a great chance to make the playoffs. With every team beneath them having flaws, the Vikings have a chance to pull away down the stretch an dget into the playoffs.

The bad news is that task will start against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday and involve a trip to Lambeau Field. Earning a split in those two games will be crucial for their conference record and if they survive, it could be a win-and-in scenario in Week 18.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

  • Dec. 26 vs. New York Giants (4-9)
  • Jan. 2 at Washington (6-8)
  • Jan. 9 vs. Dallas (10-4)

The Eagles are on the outside of the playoffs but have a strong chance thanks to their schedule. After sneaking past Washington on Tuesday, there are just three NFC East games remaining which should improve their playoff resume.

The bad news is that Dallas could be playing for the No. 1 seed in Week 18, meaning they'll likely need some help to make the playoffs.

9. New Orleans Saints (7-7)

  • Dec. 27 vs. Miami (7-7)
  • Jan. 2 vs. Carolina (5-9)
  • Jan. 9 vs. Atlanta (6-8)

The Saints win over Tampa Bay caused chaos throughout the NFC playoff picture but they still need some help to get in. With a 5-5 conference record, the Saints could be in a good spot if they run the table. But they'll have to get past a Miami team that has won six straight after starting 1-7.

This team may be UNRECOGNIZABLE (!!!) than in years past but with no remaining opponents over .500, they could be in a familiar spot at the end of the season.

10. Washington Football Team (6-8)

  • Dec. 26 at Dallas (10-4)
  • Jan. 2 vs. Philadelphia (7-7)
  • Jan. 9 at New York Giants (4-9)

Tuesday's loss to the Eagles was a gut punch to their playoff hopes. With several players including Taylor Heinicke on the COVID-19 list, Washington is in rough shape as it heads down the stretch.

11. Atlanta Falcons (6-8)

  • Dec. 26 vs. Detroit (2-12-1)
  • Jan. 2 at Buffalo (8-6)
  • Jan. 9 vs. Saints (7-7)

Just like Washington, the Falcons suffered a devastating loss to the 49ers on Sunday. Their 3-7 conference record puts them in a massive hole and another loss will give the Vikings one less team to worry about down the stretch.

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