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Playoff picture update: Vikings end rival Bears' hopes

The playoffs are all set. Here's the schedule for Wild Card Weekend, and here's one final look at the NFL playoff picture.

The Minnesota Vikings are in



The intense race for the playoffs is in full gear. Check out the latest situation in the postseason chase. More ...

Who saw this coming? At 6-6 and reeling, the Vikings ripped off four consecutive wins against quality competition. Their 37-34 victory over the Green Bay Packers sets up an NFC wild-card round rematch next week at Lambeau Field. The Packers blew their chance for the conference's No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

The Vikings' win knocked out the NFC North rival Chicago Bears, who beat the Detroit Lions earlier in the day. The New York Giants also were eliminated despite winning early in the day.

The San Francisco 49ers claim the NFC West and a bye

It wasn't always pretty, but the 49ers pulled away from the Arizona Cardinals for a 27-13 victory. That gives San Francisco the NFC West title and a week off because of the Vikings' win over the Packers. The 49ers snuck into the No. 2 seed.

The Washington Redskins will host the Seattle Seahawks

Cowboys-Redskins on Sunday night was a win-and-in game for the NFC East title. Washington's 28-18 victory won the NFC and set up an all rookie quarterback showdown in D.C. next week. Seattle defeated the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to win the NFC East. Seattle is the NFC's No. 5 seed.

The Houston Texans fell all the way to the No. 3 seed

They blew an opportunity to clinch the AFC's No. 1 seed for a second consecutive week, this time with a 28-16 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Following wins by Denver and New England, Houston fell all the way to the No. 3 seed. Now the Texans will host the Cincinnati Bengals next week to open wild-card weekend. Houston lost three of its final four games by 57 points combined. What a stunning collapse for a 12-4 team.

The Denver Broncos have home-field advantage in the AFC

John Elway sends a hearty thanks to his Stanford buddy, Andrew Luck, for helping the Broncos grab the AFC's No. 1 seed. Am easy win over the Kansas City Chiefs, combined with the Texans' loss, locked up the spot for Denver. New England also owes its old rival in Indianapolis. The Patriots now get a bye and the No. 2 seed.

It's a huge development for the Patriots. Instead of potentially going to Denver in the divisional round, the Patriots will be at home for a potential date with the Texans, whom they routed in Foxborough during the regular season.

The Baltimore Ravens will host the Indianapolis Colts next week

The Ravens had a chance to move up to the No. 3 seed with a win and a Patriots loss, but they lost 23-17 to the Bengals. The Ravens will host the Colts next week as coach Chuck Pagano faces his old friends. Break out the Baltimore Colts columns.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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