Heading into Week 15 of the NFL season, the NFC North division race was the closest of all the division races in the NFL.
The Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers were separated by just one game in the win column.
Things remain tight after Chicago (8-6) beat Cleveland, 38-31, and Green Bay (7-6-1) came back from 23 points down to beat Dallas, 37-36, on Sunday.
The Lions will host Baltimore on Monday Night Football, but for the first time in more than a month they’re looking up in the division standings, even if it's for just a little more than 24 hours.
"Throw whatever sports cliché you want at it, when it’s crunch time it’s time to go deliver," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said this week. "That’s where we are right now."
Chicago’s win means Detroit (7-6) has to beat Baltimore to keep pace with the Bears and continue to control their own playoff destiny.
The Bears scored 21 fourth-quarter points to come from behind and beat the Browns. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 265 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in his first game back since injuring an ankle vs. Detroit Nov. 10.
The Lions hold the tiebreaker against the Bears by way of sweeping the season series. So, if both teams finish ahead of Green Bay and have the same record, the Lions would win the division.
Green Bay’s dramatic win keeps their hopes of a third-straight division title intact. The Packers have two remaining games vs. Pittsburgh and at Chicago to end the year. They’re also close to getting MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers back in the lineup after he’s missed nearly two months with a broken collarbone.
For the Lions, it’s simple. They win their remaining three games and the division title is theirs and they host their first playoff game since 1993.
They lose on Monday night and they’re a game behind the Bears, a half game behind the Packers and in a situation where they need help with only two games remaining.
NFC NORTH STANDINGS
Green Bay (7-6-1)