Vikings gain little ground Sunday

The Vikings kept the dream alive by winning at Jacksonville, but they will need help to get into the playoffs and got none Sunday. The teams they are chasing in the NFC playoff race — the Lions, Giants, Buccaneers, Falcons and Redskins — all won. So did the Packers, who dismantled the Seahawks 38-10 for their third victory in a row to remain tied with the Vikings.

No margin for error

The Vikings still need to run the table to avoid their playoff odds becoming razor thin, and their 4-6 record against NFC opponents doesn’t bode well for potential tiebreaker scenarios in the event they are even with Tampa Bay, Atlanta or any other conference foe they haven’t played. Still, the most likely way the Vikings get in remains winning out vs. the Colts, Packers and Bears while getting help from around the league. 

NFC North nearly out of reach

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford orchestrated his eighth fourth-quarter comeback of the season in Detroit’s 20-17 victory against Chicago. The only way the Vikings can repeat as NFC North champions is if they win out and the Lions lose out — although Detroit does have a tough schedule, facing the Giants, Cowboys and Packers. Here are the NFC North standings and remaining games.

Worth noting

Vikings fans might find a predicament in next week’s Lions-Giants game. If the Giants win, Big Blue is one step closer to a wild card spot while helping the Vikings’ chances in the division. If the Lions win, the Vikings can only get in via wild card and would need multiple teams to lose. A Washington loss to Carolina in Week 15 would put the Vikings in position to move ahead of the Redskins if the Vikings defeat the Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium next Sunday.

Here’s a look at where things stand in the NFC playoff race through the bulk of Week 14:

1. Dallas Cowboys (11-2), NFC East leader, playoff spot clinched

2. Detroit Lions (9-4), NFC North leader

3. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1), NFC West leader

4. Atlanta Falcons (8-5), NFC South leader

5. New York Giants (9-4), wild card

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5), wild card

Outside looking in

7. Washington Redskins (7-5-1)

8. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

9. Green Bay Packers (7-6)

10. Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1)

Eliminated: Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers