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Sunday Morning Bloody Mary: The NFC North Playoff Race Begins Today

Packers Bears
Week 13 49ers @ LIONS


Two teams sit at the top of the NFC North with that record, the Packers and Bears. Taking very different routes to get there, the Bears have the slightest of edges against the Packers right now, having beaten them by a field goal in Week 3.

So the race for the playoffs begins today. It's a two team race for the North as both of these teams will probably win at least 2 games, and the Vikings are not likely to win out. The Lions are done for this year, like so many years before, but they're a few pieces from being a legitimate contender, so don't sleep on them in 2011.

With two common opponents remaining over the last six games (not counting each other, obviously), the Lions would seem to have a slightly easier stretch--but that's why they play on Sundays (and occasionally Thursdays and Mondays.) Winning this division will be crucial, because Wild Card spots can hardly be guaranteed. 

What are the Bears looking at on their way to late January Football?

From standings page, coming into today the NFC North looks like this:

NFC North Team W L T  Pct PF PA Net Pts TD Home Road Div Pct Conf Pct Non-Conf Streak Last 5
Chicago Bears 7 3 0 .700 191 146 45 20 3-2 4-1 3-0 1.000 5-3 .625 2-0 3W 3-2
Green Bay Packers 7 3 0 .700 252 146 106 30 4-1 3-2 3-1 .750 5-2 .714 2-1 4W 4-1
Minnesota Vikings 3 7 0 .300 172 226 -54 20 3-2 0-5 1-3 .250 3-4 .429 0-3 2L 1-4
Detroit Lions 2 9 0 .182 258 282 -24 30 2-3 0-6 0-3 .000 2-6 .250 0-3 4L 1-4

Let's also briefly glance at some of the tiebreaking procedures (full list at this link):

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

So the Bears have the edge in head to head, currently, which is huge. A victory against the Packers in Week 17 will hopefully negate that entirely, however it's possible that the Packers could be a game up on the Bears going into that game. Trying to win the division against the Packers at Lambeau in January isn't a thrilling prospect, so hopefully it won't come to that.

Losing the conference against the Redskins, Seahawks, and the Giants hurts, but the Packers have 5 games left against the conference, whereas the Bears have four. This could theoretically come into play as well.

Most times the tiebreaker doesn't come down to the other two steps, so I'm not going to talk about it here. Winning this division is almost a requirement, and a win against the Eagles today would be a big statement.