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NFC NORTH: Breaking down each team's playoff chances

The four teams in the NFC North are in the home stretch of the regular season. It will be a sprint to the finish to see who wins the division and if any of the other three teams can qualify for the playoffs.

As it stands today, all four teams in the NFC North are still alive in the playoff hunt, although some control their own destiny and others need a lot of help along the way.

This week's NFC North column takes a look at the remaining schedules for Chicago, Minnesota, Green Bay and Detroit, with each team's playoff outlook:


Record: 9-4

Remaining schedule: vs. Green Bay (5-7-1), at San Francisco (3-10), at Minnesota (6-6-1)

Remaining opponents combined record: 14-23-1

Playoff outlook:

The Bears are in ideal position to both win the division and host a playoff game. Chicago is currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC behind New Orleans (11-2) and Los Angeles (11-2). They have a two and a half game lead over the Vikings in the division with three games to play.

Chicago needs just one victory in the final three games or one more loss by Minnesota to claim their first division title since 2010.


Record: 6-6-1

Remaining schedule: vs. Miami (7-6), at Detroit (5-8), vs. Chicago (9-4)

Remaining opponents combined record: 21-18

Playoff outlook:

The Vikings would be the No. 6 seed and claim the last Wild Card spot if the postseason started this week. The Vikings are still alive for the NFC North title. They would need to win out with the Bears losing their remaining three games for that to happen. The two square off in Minnesota Week 17.

Minnesota lost Monday night in Seattle (currently the No. 5 seed), but it didn't cost them their playoff spot because the three teams directly behind them – Philadelphia, Carolina and Washington – all lost too.

Minnesota has the toughest remaining schedule in the North, but Week 17 could be interesting if the Bears have already clinched the division and can't jump the Saints or Rams for a first-round bye. As it stands right now, Minnesota would go to Chicago the following week in the first round of the playoffs.


Record: 5-7-1

Remaining schedule: at Chicago (9-4), at New York Jets (4-9), vs. Detroit (5-8)

Remaining opponents combined record: 18-21

Playoff outlook:

The Packers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 34-20 win over the Falcons Sunday. They received a lot of help with Minnesota, Philadelphia, Carolina, Washington and Tampa Bay all losing ahead of them.

The Packers must first win their remaining three games, and then they need some help.

Green Bay needs Carolina, Philadelphia and Washington to lose at least one of their remaining three games.

The Packers also would need Minnesota to lose two of their remaining three games or Seattle to lose the rest of their games.


Record: 5-8

Remaining schedule: at Buffalo (4-9), vs. Minnesota (6-6-1), at Green Bay (5-7-1)

Remaining opponents combined record: 15-22-2

Playoff outlook:

The Lions improved their win total on the year to five Sunday with a victory in Arizona, and it also keeps their playoff hopes alive.

To get there, the Lions need to win out to finish 8-8, and then get a lot of help.

Detroit will need the New York Giants (5-8) and Tampa Bay (5-8) to lose at least one of their remaining three games.

The Lions own the tie breaker with Carolina thanks to their 20-19 Week 11 win over the Panthers. That means Carolina also needs to lose just one more game.

Detroit will also need Washington (6-7) and Philadelphia (6-7) to lose two more games each. Washington plays at Jacksonville, at Tennessee and host Philadelphia to end the year. Philadelphia plays at Los Angeles (Rams), vs. Houston and at Washington.

The Lions would also need to beat Minnesota Week 16, and for the Vikings to lose one more of their other two games.

First and foremost, the Lions need to take care of their own business Sunday in Buffalo.

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