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It was just two weeks ago that the Minnesota Vikings' playoff hopes appeared to be circling the drain, but two straight wins have them back in the thick of the NFC playoff race.

There's a lot going on in the NFC standings, so here are some things to keep in mind.

Where are the Vikings after Week 11?

The Vikings entered Week 11 just outside of the playoffs but jumped up to seventh after Atlanta lost to New England on Thursday night. 

With New Orleans getting blown out in Philadelphia and San Francisco defeating Jacksonville, the Vikings are in a three-way tie with the Saints and 49ers.

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The Vikings are currently the sixth seed by virtue of their conference record, which stands at 4-2 after Sunday's victory. But that also sets them up for critical matchups down the stretch that could determine their playoff fate.

What lies ahead?

The first critical game is this week's trip to San Francisco. The 49ers have also picked up victories over the past two weeks including one over the top-seeded Cardinals, who were without starting quarterback Kyler Murray. 

A win against the 49ers could serve as a springboard as Minnesota will travel to the 0-9-1 Lions before a Thursday night matchup with Pittsburgh (5-4-1) in Week 13. 

After a trip to Chicago, the Vikings return home for what could be an even bigger matchup with the Rams on Dec. 26, followed by an early January game at Lambeau Field against the Packers and then the regular season finale at home against da' Bears. 

But things could get dicey if the Vikings lose to the 'Niners. Not only would the Vikings be on the wrong end of a potential head-to-head tiebreak, they would also be log-jammed with the Eagles and Panthers. 

What about the NFC North?

While the talk has been centered around a wild card spot, Sunday's win over the Packers kept the hopes for a divisional title alive.

The Vikings pulled within 2.5 games of the Packers on Sunday, who have a challenging schedule down the stretch. 

Green Bay will host the Rams this Sunday before a Week 13 bye, followed by a home game with the Bears, a road trip to Baltimore and a Christmas matchup with the Browns. 

Adding to the difficulty is the Packers' long list of injuries that include Aaron Rodgers' toe, Rashawn Gary's elbow, Aaron Jones' knee and the knee injury that knocked starting left tackle Elgton Jenkins out of the game in Minneapolis. 

If Green Bay stumbles, it could set up a massive border battle Jan. 2 where the Vikings could be playing for an improbable NFC North championship.

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