Vikings’ playoff picture

The Vikings (9-2) beat both the Saints (8-3) and the Rams (8-3) earlier this season, giving Minnesota a one-game lead and tiebreakers.

With a 30-23 win over the Lions last week, the Vikings gained a three-game lead in the NFC North. To win the division and host a playoff game, the Vikings simply need to beat the Packers (5-6) and Bears (3-8) in Weeks 16 and 17. Of course, the Vikings can put the bow on a division title before then.

Minnesota can take care of its own path with big opportunities in Atlanta on Sunday and Charlotte on Dec. 10.

Both games, against current NFC wild-card teams, will be further measuring sticks for a Vikings team thinking Super Bowl. Before the Panthers host the Vikings, they’ll play in New Orleans on Sunday for the NFC South lead. And then the Falcons face the Saints on Dec. 7.

NFC Playoff Picture

1. Eagles (10-1)

2. Vikings (9-2)

3. Rams (8-3)

4. Saints (8-3)

5. Panthers (8-3)

6. Falcons (7-4)

Outside looking in: Seahawks (7-4), Lions (6-5), Packers (5-6), Cowboys (5-6), Redskins (5-6), Cardinals (5-6)

Andrew Krammer