By Joseph Gunther

It has been a few years since the Minnesota Vikings have had a playoff spot secured prior to the final game of the regular season. Despite having at least a wild card seed clinched, the Vikings can still get more.

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The Vikings finish their regular season schedule against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday. The winner of that game will be the No. 3 seed in the NFC and will host a Wild Card round game against the second wild card team, regardless of the outcome

“I mean we’re happy that we made it into the playoffs,” defensive end Brian Robison said after last week’s victory. “Those are the things you take for granted, but at the end of the day, you can’t be satisfied with where you’re at. That’s the vibe I get from this team: we’re not satisfied. We’ve got work to do and goals we want to accomplish as well.”

The Vikings were in position to have a playoff spot clinched before even taking the field last week against the New York Giants. However,  the Atlanta Falcons stayed alive by beating the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks fell to the St. Louis Rams at home earlier in the day. Despite having to work a little harder to clinch, the Vikings were happy to do it on their own.

“By us coming in here tonight and getting a win, we do not have to rely on other people to get into the playoffs,” Robison also said. “We’ve been in situations before where we’ve had to rely on people and it’s not a fun deal. You want to be able to do what we did tonight: win and in. Now we’ve got to try to move forward and get a division championship next week.”

Playoff seeding possibilities

The Vikings could get one of three playoff spots and thus could play one of three opponents. They could be the third seed as the division winner or either wild card spot.

The first scenario is easy, win and host the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card. If they lose to the Packers, then their seed and opponent would depend on the outcome of the Seahawks-Arizona Cardinals game played earlier in the day. The Seahawks and Cardinals game will end shortly before the start of the Vikings-Packers game. A Seahawks win and Vikings loss would give the Vikings the No. 6 seed and a trip back to Lambeau Field the following weekend. A Seahawks loss and Vikings loss would mean the Vikings head to FedEx Field to take on the NFC East division champion Washington Redskins.

The NFC playoffs breakdown like this:

No. 1 – Cardinals or Carolina Panthers

No. 2 – Cardinals or Panthers

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No. 3 – Packers or Vikings

No. 4 – Redskins

No. 5 – Packers or Seahawks or Vikings

No. 6 – Seahawks or Vikings

Peterson nearing rushing title

With one game to play, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson leads all NFL players with 1,418 yards. He leads Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin by 64 yards. Martin and the Buccaneers face the Panthers at 3:25 CT. Peterson will know prior to the start of his game exactly how many yards he needs. 

Also chasing Peterson are Todd Gurley of the St. Louis Rams and Latavius Murray of the Oakland Raiders. They are the only other players with more than 1,000 at this point. Neither appear likely to catch to Peterson with 1,108 and 1,035 yards, respectively.

In his last three trips to Lambeau Field, Peterson has run for 455 yards. If Peterson runs for at least 73 yards, he will record the fourth most rushing yards by a 30-year-old running back in NFL history. It would take considerably more (217) to reach third on the list.

Walsh earns weekly honor

Despite missing an extra point in the Vikings win over the Giants last week, Blair Walsh was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. The NFL announced Wednesday that Walsh’s five field goals, including two over 50 yards, were good enough to earn the kicker his fifth player of the week honor. He received the award three times in 2012 as a rookie and once in 2013. He is the second Viking to get the award this season.

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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.