The Driver’s Seat in the NFC North Belongs to the Bears
Due to the heroics of Justin Tucker’s six field goals in an 18-16 Baltimore Ravens’ victory over the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears now have sole-possession of first place in the NFC North. They also control their own destiny in division title race. The Packers also control their own destiny because they play the Bears week 17. The Bears’ record of 8-6 is good enough for a ½ game lead over the Green Bay Packers (7-6-1), and a full game over the Lions (7-7).
With the results from week 15, the Bears could clinch the division after week 16. If the Bears defeat the 8-6 Philadelphia Eagles on the road Sunday Evening (mildly likely); the Lions lose or tie at home versus the 5-9 New York Giants (very unlikely); and the Packers lose at home against the 6-8 Pittsburgh Steelers (mildly likely, pending on Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ status); the Bears would be division champions. A Bears loss against the Eagles, although it would not eliminate them from division crown contention, could be detrimental as the Bears could find themselves in third place (technically, a tie for second, but the Lions hold the head-to-head tiebreak).
But chances are that not all three results I mentioned above would happen, so the division race would likely come down to week 17. As of now, the Bears-Packers game, at Soldier Field, is a noon kickoff, but if the division is on the line, there is a good chance that game would be “flexed” to a later time. The Lions travel to Minnesota that Sunday to play a noon game against the Vikings. Although the Vikings record (4-9-1) is nothing to brag about, the team won their last two home games against the Bears and the Eagles.
The division picture will be somewhat simplistic after Sunday’s games end. As of now, many complex scenarios could happen. But it is safe to say that the Bears, Lions, and Packers are all in “must-win” situations going into Sunday.