Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

It is that time of year again. The time where everyone gathers with their family members around the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate, nibbling on sugar cookies and divulging in everyone’s favorite seasonal pastime.

Going over NFL playoff scenarios.

As far as the Vikings making the playoffs in 2015, Minnesota controls its own destiny. At least for the time being.

If the playoffs began today, the Vikings would enter the postseason as the NFC’s sixth seed. That seed seems like the least favorable spot that Minnesota could land, but it could actually end up being one of the best depending on how everything sorts itself out.

With the top two seeds in the NFC likely locked up by the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals, the Vikings will be fighting to land either the third, fifth, or sixth seed in the playoffs. Yes, they do need to clinch a berth in the postseason first. But if they do, what seeding could provide them with the best opportunity to succeed?

#3 Seed – NFC North Division Champion (At least one home game)

Potential First Round Opponent: Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, or Philadelphia Eagles

Many seem to think that this would be the best spot that Minnesota could land. Although it does come with a guarantee of at least one game at home, it could also come with some disadvantages.

With this seeding, the Vikings would likely avoid a matchup with Seattle in the first round. The Seahawks look poised to lock up the fifth seed which would have them face off with the fourth seed (eventual division winner of the NFC East).

However, there is still a chance that the Seahawks could make the playoffs as the sixth seed. If this happens and Minnesota wins the division, the Vikings are going to need a much better game plan than the one they used in their 38-7 loss to Seattle in Week 13.

If Minnesota entered the playoffs as the NFC’s third seed, it would guarantee that a matchup with the top seeded Panthers would not occur until the conference championship game. Since Carolina is currently undefeated, avoiding the chance at meeting them any earlier in the postseason may be in the Vikings best interest.

This spot in the playoffs would also mean that Minnesota’s first round matchup would take place in their home stadium. The Vikings do have a record of 4-2 at home this season, but they have also lost their last two games at home by a combined 48 points.

#5 Seed – NFC Wild Card Number 1 (Potential for at most one home game)

Potential First Round Opponent: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins

One would think that entering the postseason as one of the two wild card teams would be one of the least favorable scenarios. But thanks to the horrendous play by the teams in the NFC East this season, that is not the case.

This spot would easily give Minnesota the best first round matchup as it would be against the eventual division champion of the NFC East. With a favorable first round game, the Vikings could use it as an opportunity to gain momentum that could propel them further in the playoffs.

On the downside, this seeding also comes with the potential of not having a home playoff game throughout the entirety of the postseason. But then again, Minnesota is also 4-2 on the road this season and have won four of their last five games away from home.

If the Vikings were to win their first playoff game, they could potentially face the Panthers in the next round depending on the result of the other first round game in the NFC. Carolina will be well rested for their first game of the 2015 postseason and Minnesota could become the Panthers first playoff victim.

#6 Seed – NFC Wild Card Number 2 (No chance for any home games)

Potential First Round Opponent: Green Bay Packers                           

Typically, the lowest seed is the least favorable of the six. No surprises here as this would indeed be true for the Vikings if they were to enter the playoffs at this spot.

With zero chance for any home games and matchups with the highest possible seeded team in every round, the chances of Minnesota getting very far in this scenario seem slim. Stranger things have happened, but not to the Vikings.

As the second wild card team, Minnesota would have the best chance at reaching the Super Bowl if every NFC playoff team’s starting quarterback were injured and unable to play in their game against the Vikings. Santa is a pretty magical dude, but not even he could pull off that Christmas miracle.