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NFC NORTH: Where teams stand after Week 12

The 2017 season is down to just five games, which means the playoff push is upon us. Can the Vikings hold onto the division lead? Can the Lions chip into that lead? Will the Packers stay in the hunt? Do the Bears play spoilers?

This should be an interesting next five weeks.

Let's take a look at where the Vikings, Lions, Packers and Bears stand heading into the stretch run, and what the road looks like the rest of the way for all four teams.


Record: 9-2

Division record: 3-1

Conference record: 7-1

Remaining schedule: at Atlanta (7-4), at Carolina (8-3), vs. Cincinnati (5-6), at Green Bay (5-6), vs. Chicago (3-8)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 28-27

Twentyman: This is where it gets a little conflicting for Lions fans. Do they want Atlanta and Carolina to win the next two weeks to keep Detroit's hopes of a division title intact, or are they Vikings fans knowing that both Atlanta and Carolina own the tiebreaker against the Lions in any Wild Card scenario?

It's a tough call, but I don't see Minnesota taking any deep plunge over the next month. They are just too solid and too well coached. The New York Giants and Green Packers are proof that just getting into the playoffs is the objective. They've both won Super Bowls in the last decade as sixth seeds. Lions fans should root for whatever their best chance of getting into the show is.


Record: 6-5

Division record: 3-1

Conference record: 5-4

View photos of the starters for the Baltimore Ravens

Remaining schedule: at Baltimore (6-5), at Tampa Bay (4-7), vs. Chicago (3-8), at Cincinnati (5-6), vs. Green Bay (5-6)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 23-32

Twentyman: The NFC playoff picture is rather congested at the top. The Lions are 6-5 on the year, and are currently just the No. 8 seed. Getting to 10 wins is usually the goal to secure a playoff spot, but it might not be good enough this year, especially if Atlanta or Carolina finishes with 10 wins as well.

The Lions need to go into these last five games with the mentality that they need to win them all. If they slip up once, it might not kill them, but it could. It's that kind of year in the NFC.


Record: 5-6

Division record: 2-2

Conference record: 4-4

Remaining schedule: vs. Tampa Bay (4-7), at Cleveland (0-11), at Carolina (8-3), vs. Minnesota (9-2), at Detroit (6-5)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 27-28

Twentyman: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went through a workout on the field before Green Bay's game at Pittsburgh last week, and was throwing the football up to 50 yards, according to reports. He's working his way back from a broken collar bone, but he's still a couple weeks away from having to make a decision whether or not he wants to return for the final three games, or call it a season and get himself ready for 2018. Green Bay's playoff chances will likely impact that decision.

Realistically, Green Bay has to win out to get to 10 wins, which means they'll have to beat Carolina, Minnesota and Detroit in a three-game gauntlet to end the year. With Rodgers back in the fold, it's not out of the realm of possibility. But first, the Packers can't have any slip-ups against Tampa Bay or Cleveland.  


Record: 3-8

Division record: 0-4

Conference record: 1-8

Remaining schedule: vs. San Francisco (1-10), at Cincinnati (4-7), at Detroit (6-5), at Cleveland (0-11), at Minnesota (9-2)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 20-35

Twentyman: The Bears have an eye on 2018 with their quarterback of the future, Mitchell Trubisky, in place and gaining valuable experience as a rookie. The Bears still run the ball well and play pretty good defense. They'll try to play spoiler down the stretch.

Chicago could certainly still wreck Detroit's playoff chances at Ford Field Dec. 16. And who knows, maybe that Week 17 game in Minnesota means something for the NFC North title, or Minnesota getting a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Pride is still on the line for Chicago, and they can still play a factor in the NFC playoff picture.

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