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NFC North Rundown: A Hail Merry (Christmas) helps keep Minnesota in playoff chase

A successful Hail Mary attempt before halftime kicked off a week of drama as the Vikings try to hold on to the sixth and final playoff spot heading into a Week 17 divisional clash.

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It was not the prettiest game of the season on Sunday afternoon, but the Green Bay Packers (6-8-1) found a way to knock off the New York Jets, 44-38, to avoid a winless road schedule in 2018 and clinch third place in the division standings.

Behind Aaron Rodgers’ 442-yard passing day and two rushing touchdowns, the Packers were able to escape New York with an overtime win despite improbable chances early in the fourth quarter. Green Bay will finish up its schedule with an NFC North tilt against the Detroit Lions next week.

Perhaps the more intriguing divisional matchup in Week 17 is Minnesota’s home matchup with Chicago. After the Bears’ ugly win in San Francisco and some Christmas luck for the Vikings in Detroit, each team has its eyes set on the playoffs. While the Bears are locked in and can improve their playoff position next week, the Vikings’ season hinges on their ability to get a win or get help from a down-and-out Arizona squad.

Some updates on those scenarios and what’s next for the Lions in today’s rundown.

Minnesota Vikings (8-6-1)

Won 27-9 at Detroit; Next vs. Chicago

Ready or not, Vikings’ playoff fate comes down to final game

Win and they’re in. Minnesota can also clinch a postseason spot if it loses, but could also still earn the fifth spot. Those scenarios can be found in this article.

5 Takeaways from the Vikings Win Over the Lions

A “Hail Merry Christmas!” worked to perfection for Minnesota, but penalties did not. Those were two observations from Sunday’s game.

Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell inactive for Lions game

In what appeared to be a healthy scratch, the former first round pick Treadwell was inactive once again for the Vikings. The third-year pro would seemingly be on thin ice in Minnesota.

Detroit Lions (5-10)

Lost 27-9 vs. Minnesota; Next at Green Bay

Lions assured of last-place finish after loss to Vikings

Detroit will officially finish at the bottom of the division for the first time since 2012, thanks in part to finishing on the other end of a converted Hail Mary once again.

Detroit Lions stock watch: DeShawn Shead struggles; Zach Zenner doesn’t

One corner looked promising while another was...not so much. Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ wide receivers also struggled as Detroit averaged just 3.6 yards per passing play.

Buckle up. The Lions are headed for even more turnover.

The Lions were not supposed to be a project when Matt Patricia took over as head coach and recent player comments suggest that not all have bought in to the new regime. More offseason changes look to be around the corner to improve the roster.

Chicago Bears (11-4)

Won 14-9 at San Francisco; Next at Minnesota

NFL shifts Bears-Vikings start to 3:25 p.m. because of playoff implications

Five games with playoff implications will be played simultaneously in the later afternoon game next Sunday and the Bears-Vikings matchup will be one of them.

Bears need Rams loss in Week 17 to earn first-round playoff bye

Chicago has minimally secured the NFC’s third seed and will play for a chance to tout a first round bye next Sunday with a win and an LA Rams loss.

Bears-49ers postgame: Bears win ugly in 14-9 nail biter

A mini brawl and “cute” offensive tricks were two of the quick-hitters from Sunday’s close game.