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Bears clinch NFC North; Vikings still control playoff destiny

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The division is gone, but the Vikings are still in decent shape to make the playoffs

Miami Dolphins v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

With most of the results from Week 15 of National Football League action in the books, the Minnesota Vikings have lost any chance they had of winning a second consecutive division title, but they’re still in the driver’s seat for a postseason spot.

With their 24-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Bears officially wrapped up the NFC North title for 2018. That game also officially eliminated the Packers from the playoff race for this season.

As far as the Vikings are concerned, their 41-17 blowout of the Miami Dolphins ensured that they remained in control of their own destiny for a postseason berth with two games remaining. At 7-6-1, they’re half a game clear of the Washington Redskins (who beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday). They’re also still ahead of both the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles, who have not yet completed their games. The Eagles face the Los Angeles Rams tonight on Sunday Night Football, while the Panthers host the New Orleans Saints in this week’s edition of Monday Night Football.

If the Vikings win their final two games. . .they play at the Detroit Lions next Sunday and host the Bears in the regular season finale. . .nobody can keep them out of a playoff spot, regardless of how the other teams in the NFC perform. A record of 9-6-1 would be half a game ahead of any of the other teams in the NFC race, who can finish no better than 9-7.

In addition, the Vikings got a bit of a break on Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers pulled off an upset over the Seattle Seahawks, knocking them off by a score of 26-23 in overtime. The loss narrowed the gap between the Seahawks and the Vikings to half a game for the #5 seed in the NFC playoffs. While the Vikings play the Lions next week, the Seahawks will play host to the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Vikings should win and the Seahawks should lose, Minnesota would leapfrog the Seahawks into the #5 spot.

I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but the #6 seed in the NFC is likely looking at a trip to Chicago on Wild Card Weekend, while the #5 seed is going to wind up traveling to whoever wins the NFC East (likely the Dallas Cowboys, though Washington still has a shot). In all honesty, I think we’d rather see the Vikings take a shot at the NFC East Champion than having to play the Bears in back-to-back weeks.

We’ll have a full accounting of the playoff chase once the last two games for this week are official.