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Breaking Down the 2012 NFC North Playoff Picture After Week 14

Heading into Week 15, the Chicago Bears need a victory and a Green Bay loss more than anything. Luckily for Chicago, they control their own destiny as they host the Packers on Sunday. The 9-4 Packers have won two in a row since getting bludgeoned on national TV by the Giants, while Chicago has lost their last two. Chicago is one game behind and, most importantly, does not have the tie-breaker over Green Bay at the moment.

A Chicago victory would even up both teams at 9-5 but the Packers would still own the tiebreaker; the first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and if the Bears won they would have to go to the next tiebreaker. That would be won-lost-tied percentage in division games, which will likely work in Green Bay’s favor. The Packers are currently 4-0 in NFC North play while the Bears are 2-2, which means that a best-case scenario for the Bears would leave both teams at 4-2. The next tiebreaker is win-loss-tied percentage among common teams, which has yet to be determined.

So what does this mean for both teams going forward? The NFC North is the Packers division to lose. A victory at Chicago this weekend will give them a 2 game lead and possession of the tiebreaker with two games left to go. With a victory over the Bears the Packers would have won 8 of their last 9 and will lock up the division. 

Not only are the Packers in a position to win the division, they also have a shot at a first round bye and home playoff game. San Francisco is a half-game ahead of the Packers in the NFC playoff bracket and travels to New England this weekend to play Tom Brady and the Patriots. A Green Bay victory and San Francisco loss would vault the Packers into a bye-week position, making this week’s contests especially significant.

As for the Bears, a loss against the Packers will not squash their playoff hopes. A loss would put the Bears in competition with the RGIII-led Redskins for the final wildcard spot. The Seattle Seahawks are sitting on the 5th seed and share an 8-5 record with Chicago, as well as owning the tiebreaker; they also have the easiest matchup of any team in playoff contention when they head to Buffalo. Washington travels to Cleveland to take on a Browns team that has been a respectable 5-3 over the last 8 games.

But despite all of these playoff implications I have yet to mention the most important game of the week. Detroit travels to Arizona to take on a Cardinals team that just hit a new low with their 9th loss in a row in a 58-0 drubbing at the hands of Seattle. Oh, you think it’s not important? Well let me remind you that high picks are earned, not given. At 4-9 both teams could really use a loss to propel them into prime draft position. At least both teams are used to fighting for top draft picks. 


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