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NFC Playoff Picture, Week 13: Packers can’t gain ground on Lions in NFC North

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Green Bay could only keep pace with the division leaders on Sunday, but help could be on the way in the next few weeks.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Houston Texans, leaving both teams with equal 6-6 records on the season. Houston fell into a tie with the Tennessee Titans for the lead in the AFC South, while the Packers climbed into a tie with the Minnesota Vikings for second place in the NFC North.

However, while the Packers picked up a game in the Wild Card standings thanks to Washington’s loss, they were unable to gain any ground in the division, as the Detroit Lions defeated the New Orleans Saints and improved to 8-4. The Packers now sit two games back of Detroit with four games to play. The Packers do have a win in hand against Detroit; but although the two teams meet at Ford Field in week 17, the Packers cannot just win out and win the division - they still need the Lions to lose one of their next three games.

Thankfully for the Packers, two of those games are against difficult competition, and both are on the road. Detroit should be able to defeat the Chicago Bears next week, but then they go on the road for back-to-back games against NFC playoff teams, facing the 8-4 Giants and 11-1 Cowboys before returning home to close the season against Green Bay. If the Packers can indeed run the table as Aaron Rodgers suggests, they should be able to get some help from an NFC East team to give them a shot at the division on the final day of the regular season.

Here’s how the NFC playoff picture shapes up at present.

Division Leaders

1. NFC East: Dallas Cowboys (11-1)
2. NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1)
3. NFC North: Detroit Lions (8-4)
4. NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (7-5)

Wild Cards

5. New York Giants (8-4)
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)

Within Striking Distance

7. Washington Football Team (6-5-1)
8. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
9. Green Bay Packers (6-6)
10. Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1)

Back of the Pack

11. New Orleans Saints (5-7)
12. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
13. Carolina Panthers (4-8)
14. Los Angeles Rams (4-8)
15. Chicago Bears (3-9)

Womp Womp

16. San Francisco 49ers (1-11)