NFC NORTH

NFC North: Playoff picture cut and dry for Packers, Vikings and Bears

Posted Dec 26, 2012

The Detroit Lions aren't in the hunt for a playoff spot like their NFC North foes, but they could play spoiler to the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

The playoff picture in the NFC North couldn’t be much simpler for Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota. There are no complicated scenarios.

Green Bay (11-4) has already qualified for the playoffs by winning the division and are in control for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. They will lock up the No. 2 seed with either a win or losses by San Francisco (10-4-1) and Seattle (10-5).

Chicago (9-6), Minnesota (9-6), New York (8-7) and Washington (9-6) are in the running for the final Wild Card spot. The Vikings are in control, though, and can clinch that spot with a victory at home vs. Green Bay.

The Vikings can also advance to the playoffs with losses by the Chicago, Dallas and New York.

The Bears can advance to the postseason with a win on Sunday combined with a Minnesota loss.

“All we can do is control what we can control,” said Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, who has set team records with 113 catches and 1,466 yards. “We do need help. If we could get that help, that would be good.”

First, though, Chicago has to come into Ford Field Sunday and beat the Lions.

The Lions aren't in the playoff hunt, obviously, but there's still plenty to play for.

Playing spoiler to the Bears isn’t a bad way to end a vastly disappointing season. The Lions have also lost seven straight, and wouldn't want their last memory of victory being at Jacksonville the first week of November. Their current seven-game losing streak is the longest since the 0-16 season of 2008.

There’s also pride. The Lions have a lot of decisions to make this offseason and players are fighting for roster spots.

The Lions may not be in the playoff picture but they can surely affect the outcome.