NFC North Playoff Race: Minnesota Vikings fall behind the Lions

With only 5 weeks remaining in the 2016 NFL Season, the NFC North race will be a tight one with the Minnesota Vikings chasing the Lions for the top spot.

The Detroit Lions hold a slim lead over the Minnesota Vikings for the top spot in the NFC North currently, but that could change at any moment. With the Packers looming in the background, both seems better keep winning.

At this point, it’s hard to tell who will win the division with 5-6 games remaining for each team. We do have quite the clear picture though, as the Thanksgiving Day game cleared a few things up for us.

Let’s take a close look at the NFC North standings, remaining schedules and predictions for the last stretch in the 2016 NFL Season.

The NFC North standings are currently as follows:

  1. Detroit Lions: 7-4 (2-2)
  2. Minnesota Vikings: 6-5 (1-3)
  3. Green Bay Packers: 4-6 (2-1)
  4. Chicago Bears: 2-8 (2-1)

Obviously, the Detroit Lions are sitting pretty right now with a one game lead in the NFC North and a season sweep over the 2nd place Minnesota Vikings. But with 5-6 games remaining for each team, much can happen to effect these standings.

Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) and kicker Matt Prater (5) react after the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

With that being said, let’s go ahead with the remaining schedules for each of these four teams.

Detroit Lions

  • 12/4 – @ New Orleans Saints
  • 12/11 – vs Chicago Bears
  • 12/18 – @ New York Giants
  • 12/26 – @ Dallas Cowboys
  • 1/1 – vs Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

  • 12/1 – vs Dallas Cowboys
  • 12/11 – @ Jacksonville Jaguars
  • 12/18 – vs Indianapolis Colts
  • 12/24 – @ Green Bay Packers
  • 1/1 – vs Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

  • 11/28 – @ Philadelphia Eagles
  • 12/4 – vs Houston Texans
  • 12/11 – vs Seattle Seahawks
  • 12/18 – @ Chicago Bears
  • 12/24 – vs Minnesota Vikings
  • 1/1 – @ Detroit Lions

Chicago Bears

Nov 20, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Josh Bellamy (11) catches a pass in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

  • 11/27 – vs Tennessee Titans
  • 12/4 – vs San Francisco 49ers
  • 12/11 – @ Detroit Lions
  • 12/18 – vs Green Bay Packers
  • 12/24 – vs Washington Redskins
  • 1/1 – @ Minnesota Vikings

Starting with the Chicago Bears, their remaining schedule is very tough. Though they only have two road games, they must also play the Redskins and Packers to finish their schedule. Their playoff chances are very slim, though, so they would need to win out to even have a chance.

The Green Bay Packers also have a tough schedule ahead. Being in Philadelphia this week, at home against Houston and then Seattle means for a tough road ahead for the Cheese-heads. Already sitting 2.5 games behind the division-leading Lions, things don’t look great for the struggling Pack.

The Minnesota Vikings have struggled as of late, but they have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFC North. Despite the game against Dallas, the Vikings will probably be favored in each of their remaining games, meaning if they play how their supposed to, a 10-6 season isn’t too far of a stretch.

Nov 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) gets tackled by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Lions win 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions may lead the division, but they also may have the toughest remaining schedule in the division. Three road games remaining – @ New Orleans, @ NY Giants and @ Dallas – means for a very tough finish for the NFC North leader. The Lions may have to pull a few upsets to keep a winning record into January.

Predictions for the NFC North final standings

If we have learned anything this year, it’s that anything can happen in the NFL. The Vikings started the season off 5-0 and now they sit at 6-5. The Lions have been losing in the 4th quarter of every one of their games, yet they’re 7-4. The Packers have seemingly fallen apart and the Bears seem to have issues even Ditka couldn’t fix.

So as wrong as these may be, here are my predictions for the NFC North final standings:

  1. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
  2. Detroit Lions (9-7)
  3. Green Bay Packers (6-10)
  4. Chicago Bears (3-13)

Due to the strength of schedule going forward, I believe the Vikings can win their final 4 games of the season to finish 10-6 and have momentum heading into the playoffs. The Lions have looked great, but have a very tough schedule ahead. Vikings’ fans, we still have hope! Let’s get this division.


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