NFC NORTH

NFC North: Lions are left to play the spoiler in Bears, Vikings playoff hopes

Posted Dec 18, 2012

What makes this season even more disappointing from a Lions perspective is that the team’s Week 17 matchup vs. the Bears at Ford Field could potentially have playoff implications for the Bears and Vikings. At 4-10, the Lions are left to play the all-too-familiar spoiler role at the end of the season.

This certainly wasn’t the script the Lions laid out for themselves before the season began.

The Packers (10-4) wrapped up the 2012 NFC North title with their win over the Bears (8-6) on Sunday.

The Vikings (8-6) and the Bears are currently the No. 6 and No. 7 playoff seeds, respectively, but interestingly, neither controls their own destiny.

Here are a few playoff scenarios to consider with the Packers, Vikings and Bears:

PACKERS
They can still earn the No. 1 overall seed by winning their two remaining games (vs. Tennessee and at Minnesota), combined with two losses by the Falcons and one by the 49ers.

VIKINGS
The Vikings are currently the No. 6 seed (who would have guessed that would be the case before Week 1?), but still don’t control their own destiny, according to ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert.

Siefert explains that there are a number of scenarios where the Vikings can win their final two games (vs. Houston and Green Bay), finish 10-6 and still miss the playoffs. They could still lose a tiebreaker to the Cowboys (common games) and the Giants (conference games) in that scenario.

The easiest path to the playoffs for the Vikings is to win their final two games and have the Cowboys and Giants each lose one game. The Vikings would beat the Bears if both teams were 10-6 because of a better division record.

The Vikings could also scratch their way into the playoffs at 9-7 if both the Giants and Cowboys lose in Week 17, as well as the Bears being no better than 9-7.

Anyone confused yet. Have a headache?

BEARS
The easiest path to the postseason for the Bears would be to win their remaining two games (at Arizona and Detroit) and have the Vikings and Giants lose at least one more game.

LIONS
In case anyone was wondering, ESPN Stats & Information projects the Lions with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 draft if it were being held today.

AROUND THE NFC NORTH

Cutler backs Marshall on accountability issue
By Fred Mitchell - Tribune reporter

Bears' Smith: 'Tournament has begun for us'
By Brad Biggs - Tribune reporter

Brian Urlacher rips fans, media in defense of Lovie Smith
By Mark Potash - Chicago Sun-Times

Morrissey: Sixth straight loss to Packers signals it's time for change
By Rick Morrissey - Chicago Sun-Times

Brian Urlacher tired of booing
By ESPNChicago.com

Bears' free fall continues with loss to Packers
By Larry Mayer - Chicagobears.com

Rodgers helps lead Packers to NFC North title
By Bob McGinn - Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

Packers corners let play do talking
By Tom Silverstein - Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

Champions of the North: 'We're just getting started
By Pete Dougherty - Press-Gazette Media

Mike Vandermause column: Defense makes a statement
By Mike Vandermause - Press-Gazette Media

Packers 21, Bears 13: Crown 'em
By Jason Wilde - ESPNWisconsin.com

The second seed should be the next goal
By Vic Ketchman - Packers.com

Peterson runs for 212 yards as Vikings top Rams
By Dan Wiederer - Star Tribune

Souhan: Everyone's getting a rush over Peterson's pursuit
By Jim Souhan - Star Tribune

Vikings' Leslie Frazier: With Adrian Peterson, 'there's a chance for a home run every play'
By Bob Sansevere - Pioneer Press

Minnesota Vikings' Brian Robison might be late-week decision
By Ben Goessling - Pioneer Press

After slow start, Adrian Peterson got 'back to being an assassin'
By Tom Pelissero - 1500ESPN

Monday Morning Mailbag
By Mike Wobschall - Vikings.com