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NFC NORTH: Where all four teams stand heading into Week 14

Week 13 of the NFL season is in the books and the four teams in the NFC North are heading into the stretch run of the December portion of the schedule. The Lions hold a three-game lead in the division with five games remaining.

Here's a look at what all four teams are facing in their remaining five contests.


Record: 9-3

Remaining opponents: at Chicago (4-8), vs. Denver (6-6), at Minnesota (6-6), at Dallas (9-3), vs. Minnesota (6-6)

Strength of schedule: 31-29

Twentyman: The Lions are sitting in a good position with a three-game lead in the division over Minnesota and Green Bay with five to play. If Detroit wins three of their next five, Minnesota and Green Bay can't catch them. Detroit still has two games remaining against Minnesota Week 16 & 18, and those will essentially count for two in the division race. Minnesota and Green Bay also square off one more time in Minnesota Week 17, so barring a tie that's one more notch in the loss column for one of them.

Sunday will not be an easy game in Chicago for the Lions. The Bears have to feel like they let one slip away Week 11 in Detroit as the Lions mounted a come-from-behind win at Ford Field. Chicago is also coming off their bye, so they'll be rested and healthy. Detroit's struggled containing mobile quarterbacks, including Fields Week 11.

It's really simple for Detroit: Keep winning football games, and they control their own destiny not only in the division but in the NFC playoff picture as they are currently tied with San Francisco and Dallas for the second best record in the NFC only one game behind Philadelphia (10-2).


Record: 6-6

Remaining opponents: at Las Vegas (5-7), at Cincinnati (5-6), vs. Detroit (9-3), vs. Green Bay (6-6), at Detroit (9-3)

Strength of schedule: 34-25

Twentyman: The Vikings are coming off their bye Week 13 and are in desperate need of a win in Las Vegas this week after dropping two straight to the Broncos and Bears leading up to their week off. Journeyman quarterback Josh Dobbs has been a good story in Minnesota since arriving at the trade deadline following the Kirk Cousins injury, but Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell didn't seem 100 percent committed to Dobbs moving forward after he threw four interceptions in the loss to Chicago before their bye. There's pressure on him to play well this week if he's under center.

It's a tough three-game finish for the Vikings with two against Detroit and Green Bay in the middle, but if they can get more consistent quarterback play down the stretch, they have one of the scariest skill position trios in the NFL with wide receiver Justin Jefferson returning to join forces with tight end T.J. Hockenson and rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison.

Jefferson is arguably the best receiver in football, while Hockenson and Addison have combined for 134 receptions, 1,472 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year.


Record: 6-6

Remaining opponents: at New York Giants (4-8), vs. Tampa Bay (5-7), at Carolina (1-11), at Minnesota (6-6), vs. Chicago (4-8)

Strength of schedule: 20-40

Twentyman: Green Bay might just be the biggest threat to the Lions' division title aspirations down the stretch. The Packers are playing good football at the right time having won three straight and four of their last five, including wins against the Rams, Lions and Chiefs.

Green Bay doesn't play a team currently with a winning record the rest of the way. Minnesota Week 17 on the road is their toughest remaining game and that contest could have monster implications not only in the division race but in the NFC playoff picture as Detroit (No. 3 seed), Minnesota (No. 6) and Green Bay (No. 7) are all in the playoffs if they were to begin this week.

View photos of the starters for the Chicago Bears.


Record: 4-8

Remaining opponents: vs. Detroit (9-3), at Cleveland (7-5), vs. Arizona (3-10), vs. Atlanta (6-6), at Green Bay (6-6)

Strength of schedule: 31-30

Twentyman: Chicago likely has to win out and get to 9-8 to have a shot at making the wild card. It's not a daunting task looking at their schedule, but the next two weeks will make or break them with a home game against Detroit and a road contest in Cleveland.

Not only are the Bears still trying to keep their playoff hopes alive but they're also evaluating Fields and his future with the franchise as they currently have the No. 1 overall pick in next year's NFL Draft thanks to their trade with Carolina (1-11). Fields will be highly motivated to prove he's the guy in Chicago moving forward and that starts Sunday against the Lions.

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