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NFC NORTH: Where teams stand after Week 14

With just three games remaining in the regular season, it's crunch time for the four teams in the NFC North. Minnesota's loss at Carolina last week keeps the division title up for grabs, though the Vikings still have a stranglehold on it, needing just one win in their last three games to secure their second division title in the last three years.

Detroit and Green Bay kept their playoff hopes alive last week with wins against Tampa Bay and Cleveland, respectively. Chicago continues to be a dangerous team for Detroit and Minnesota down the stretch after they had a terrific game in Cincinnati last week with a big, 33-7, win.

Here's where the four teams in the North stand with just three weeks left in the regular season:


Record: 10-3

Division record: 3-1

Conference record: 8-2

Remaining schedule: vs. Cincinnati (5-8), at Green Bay (7-6), vs. Chicago (4-9)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 16-23

Twentyman: The Vikings lost for the first time since Week 4 (to Detroit) last week in Carolina. The Vikings allowed 216 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, which is rather uncharacteristic of the Vikings' defense.

Quarterback Case Keenum was also uncharacteristically careless with the football, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble.

Those things happen over the course of an NFL season, but everything can be right in the world in Minneapolis this upcoming Sunday with a win over a Bengals team coming off a terrible loss at home to the Bears -- A game in which they allowed 232 yards and three scores on the ground and turned it over twice.

The Vikings should be big favorites at home, and will be looking to bounce back, win the division and keep their chances of a first-round bye in the playoffs intact. The ACL injury that ended Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz's season has changed the dynamics in the NFC. The Vikings have to be viewed as the favorites now.


Record: 7-6

Division record: 3-1

Conference record: 6-4

Remaining schedule: vs. Chicago (4-9), at Cincinnati (5-8), vs. Green Bay (7-6)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 16-23

Twentyman: It wasn't pretty Sunday in Tampa Bay, but the Lions aren't going to apologize for any victory they get in December. They kept their playoff hopes alive with a 24-21 victory.

Carolina and Atlanta also won this weekend – two teams the Lions are chasing in the playoff standings – but Seattle lost, which helps some.

The Lions have to continue to just focus on what they can control, which is going 2-0 to begin the final quarter of the season with a win at Ford Field Saturday vs. Chicago.

This is a Chicago team coming off its best performance of the season, and they have a rookie quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky who's gaining a ton of confidence. Among Chicago's four wins this season are victories over Pittsburgh, Carolina and Baltimore. This is a Bears team that can't be taken lightly.


Record: 7-6

Division record: 2-2

Conference record: 5-4

Remaining schedule: at Carolina (9-4), vs. Minnesota (10-3), at Detroit (7-6)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 26-13

Twentyman: With all the news surrounding Aaron Rodgers and his return from a broken right collarbone, let's take a moment to tip our cap to Brett Hundley, who stepped in and kept the ship afloat in Green Bay while Rodgers worked his way back. That thing could have really gone south in Green Bay, and Hundley and his teammates made sure it didn't.

Now, it appears the Packers could get their two-time MVP QB back for the stretch run. Rodgers announced on Instagram Tuesday night he's been cleared to return to football operations. Rodgers had a bone density test Monday, and that's obviously come back very positive. His return to action would certainly make things more interesting these last three weeks.

Lions fans are also Packers fans this week, hoping Rodgers can return and go on the road and keep Carolina from getting their 10th win of the season.

If Rodgers returns this week, he'll be coming back to Carolina on the road, Minnesota at home and Detroit on the road the next three weeks. That's a tough stretch of games. Welcome back!


Record: 4-9

Division record: 0-4

Conference record: 1-9

View photos of the starters for the Chicago Bears.

Remaining schedule: at Detroit (7-6), vs. Cleveland (0-13), at Minnesota (10-3)

Win-loss record of remaining opponents: 17-22

Twentyman: With games still remaining against Detroit and Minnesota, Chicago still factors into the playoff picture in the NFC. Heck, if Cincinnati can somehow pull off an upset this week in Minnesota, Chicago could still factor into the division race.

The Bears can run the football, and they still play pretty good defense, despite all their injuries on that side of the ball. If they get either of those parts of their game clicking Saturday in Detroit, the Lions could be in for another close contest like the one we saw in Chicago Week 11.

The Lions fell behind 10-0 in that game, and needed a Matt Prater field goal with 1:35 left to take the lead. Detroit escaped with a victory when Connor Barth missed a game-tying 46-yard field goal with just eight seconds left in the game.

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