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NFC North: Vikings, Bears Aim for Wild Card

After Green Bay clinched the NFC North division last week and after Seattle locked up one of the two wild card spots in the conference this week, it only leaves room for one more spot for either of the other contending teams remaining in the North, the Vikings and the Bears to potentially get into the postseason. Both teams earned impressive victories this week to stay in the hunt, but now it all comes down to one game to decide whose season will end and whose will live on.

The Bears defeated the lowly Arizona Cardinals 28-13, improving to 9-6 on the year, but unfortunately for them, the Vikings also improved to 9-6 with a surprisingly dominating performance against the Houston Texans 23-6 and still hold the tiebreaker over the Bears. This means that Chicago has to win and Minnesota has to lose for the Bears to earn their spot in the 2012 postseason.

Of course, when you look at the schedule, such a scenario is not of the question. Week 17 sees the Vikings host the Packers, which will likely still be playing with plenty of vigor and focus, as they still would love to clinch a first round playoff bye with a win. This means they will likely be playing all of their starters and will not be letting up on the Vikings.

GB would love to get a bye and play their first playoff game at Lambeau

Minnesota still has a great chance to clinch the berth though. Not only are the Vikings playing extremely well as of late, but Minnesota is 6-1 at home this season, whereas Green Bay is certainly not as effective away from Lambeau, as the Pack are just 4-3 on the road this season.

Still, I like the Packers in this one. Minnesota will struggle defending the potent passing attack with the 20th best pass defense, while their only source of offense, the run game, will considerably less success against the 14th best run defense of Green Bay. Take Green Bay to cover -3 points in this one, opening the door for the Bears. SIDE NOTE–Look for Adrian Peterson to crack the 2,000 yard mark on the season, as he only needs 102 yards this week. Although the Pack will hold him in check, that doesn’t mean he won’t at least rush for about 120 yards.

If Minnesota does go down, the Bears will have their opportunity to earn their playoff spot this week by winning at Detroit, a team that is currently on an seven-game slide. Although Detroit is in such a slump, they would love nothing more than to dash the hopes of their division rival, which is just about all they have to play for at this point, so expect the Lions to pull out all the stops this week.

Will the Bears D have enough left in the tank for one more big performance?

And even though the Lions haven’t look good, the Bears haven’t exactly looked like a playoff team lately. Chicago is one of the more unpredictable teams in the league and one that has been slightly less successful on the road. Also considering Matt Forte left last week’s game with a leg injury, I like the Lions’ chances a little more even if he plays.

It’s been no secret that I’ve not been a fan of the Bears this season and I’m still not convinced they are playoff bound. Take the Lions to cover +3 and get the win this week, giving the Giants a chance to earn the final spot if they can win at home against the Eagles and I think they definitely can.


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