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Seahawks inch closer to the playoffs, Vikings start to fade. A look at the NFC wild card race

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaron Brown, (18) celebrates with wide receiver David Moore (83) after Brown caught a pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaron Brown, (18) celebrates with wide receiver David Moore (83) after Brown caught a pass for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer) AP

The NFC wild card chase had a minor shakeup here this past week with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks grabbing big wins. Meanwhile teams like Minnesota and Carolina took losses that now have each team needing wins against opponents who will not make it easy at all.

Dallas Cowboys (Record: 7-5, *NFC East leaders)

Color me impressed after a 13-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys have a golden opportunity to make a run in the NFC and now lead the NFC East. I’m not saying they’re going to be playing in the NFC championship tam3 but if you can go toe-to-toe with the league’s best offense and hold them to 10 points, that’s pretty good.

If the season were to end today, the Cowboys would be in the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, hosting the Seahawks.

vs. Eagles (6-6)

at Colts (6-6)

vs. Buccaneers (5-7)

at Giants (4-8)

A win vs. Philadlephia this week and the Cowboys could almost start thinking about being the NFC East champs. It would also wound the Redskins and Eagles chances at a playoff spot. And if the Bears were to lose on Sunday — they’re playing the Rams — they could start to pressure Chicago for a No. 3 seed, which would have them avoiding the Seahawks in the first round.

Seattle Seahawks (Record: 7-5)

Another week, another win and the grip tightens on a Seahawks playoff spot. After Minnesota, the Seahawks only face one team with a winning record (Kansas City) and could have a playoff spot locked up by the time they host Arizona in the season finale.

Upcoming schedule

vs. Vikings (6-5-1)

at 49ers (2-10)

vs. Chiefs (10-2)

vs. Cardinals (3-9)

The schedule is the perfect set up for the Seahawks. With a win vs. Minnesota, they will hold the tiebreaker in playoff spots on the Packers, Cowboys, Lions, Panthers and Vikings and a virtual lock on the No. 5 seed. Note to the 12s: Get ready for the postseason sooner rather than later.

Minnesota Vikings (Record: 6-5-1)

Last week I had discussed how the next two games for the Vikings would go a long way in determining what will happen to the Vikings going forward. Well, they’re 0-for-1 so far. Minnesota fell flat on their faces in a 24-10 loss to New England. Now they travel to Seattle and try to get their first win against a team with a winning record in 2018.

Upcoming schedule

at Seahawks (7-5)

vs. Dolphins (6-6)

at Lions (4-8)

vs. Bears (8-4)

All will not be lost if the Vikings enter next week with a 6-6-1 record but the Seahawks would then have a strangle-hold on the top wild card seed and leave Minnesota to slug it out with everyone else for the last spot. Not the thing you want to hear if you’re a Vikings fan.

Washington Redskins (Record: 6-6)

Vikings fans, at least you aren’t the Washington Redskins. Both Colt McCoy and Alex Smith are done for the season and now your playoff lives are in the hands of Mark Sanchez. In Sanchez’s first action, coming on after McCoy broke his leg, the Redskins lost, 28-13.

Sanchez hasn’t been a starter for a while now, but now he’s supposed to be the Redskins’ guy to lead them to the playoffs.

Upcoming schedule

vs. Giants (4-8)

at Jaguars (4-9)

at Titans (7-6)

vs. Eagles (6-6)

Washington needs two, maybe three wins to get into the playoffs. The Giants have been playing hard, the Jaguars look done and Tennessee and Philadelphia harbor playoff dreams, too. It looks like a hard path to eight or nine wins.

Philadelphia Eagles (Current Record: 6-6)

Your reigning, defending NFL World Champions….

... are sitting at .500 with a chance to make the NFC East and wild card hunt more interesting with a win over Dallas this week. It’s going to be a tough road back to the playoffs given the remaining schedule.

Upcoming schedule

at Cowboys (7-5)

at Rams (11-1)

vs. Texans (9-3)

at Redskins (6-6)

The Eagles aren’t “out” of the playoffs with a loss this week but they can make it much easier on themselves with a win. A loss makes the last three games of the season all must-wins. One misstep and we’re guaranteed a new Super Bowl winner.

Carolina Panthers (Record: 6-6)

Things were pretty simple going into last week, beat the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs and you move up in the playoff order with a 7-5 record. Nope, couldn’t even do that. Now the Panthers, like the other 6-6 teams on this list, find themselves on the tightest of tight ropes.

Upcoming schedule

at Browns (4-7-1)

vs. Saints (10-2)

vs. Falcons (4-8)

at Saints (10-2)

The good news for the Panthers is they’ve got two games against teams that have records under .500. The Panthers, losers of four straight, have to play the New Orleans Saints twice and do not control their fate in the wild NFC wild card race.

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